Thirteen-year-old skateboarder Sky Brown won bronze in the women’s park skateboarding event at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday. The teen is Great Britain’s youngest Olympic medalist ever and the third 13-year-old to win a medal for skateboarding at the Tokyo Games.
Japan’s Momiji Nishiya became one of the youngest Olympic gold medalists ever after winning thelast week. In that event, another 13-year-old, Brazil’s Rayssa Leal, won silver.
Brown, who went professional at 10, has grown up in the limelight and is extremely popular on social media, with over 1 million followers on Instagram. She also has a YouTube channel with her brother, Ocean, and went viral at 4 years old when her dad, Stu, posted a clip of her skateboarding on Facebook, BBC News reports.
She has gained the attention of sponsors, like Nike, who signed her when she turned professional in 2018. She has also appeared in ads with other powerful athletes, Simone Biles and Serena Williams, and won “Dancing with the Stars: Juniors” in 2018, according to BBC News.
Brown, who is ranked third in the world, was the first female to successfully land a frontside 540 at the X Games, an annual extreme sports competition. She was just 11. The trick involves rotating one and a half times on a skateboard in mid-air.
Brown also likes another extreme sport – surfing. She often wakes up early to surf with her dad and brother in California, where she lives half of the time.
She splits her time between Oceanside, California and Miyazaki, Japan. Japanese is her first language but her father, Stu, is English, BBC News reports. Olympians with two or more nationalities can choose which country they represent at the games. Sky chose to represent Great Britain.
She has never had a professional coach. Instead, she watched YouTube videos of skateboarders and tried to recreate their tricks. She has also skated with Tony Hawk.
“My dad built a mini-ramp in our backyard for him and his friends to skate on. He would skate every day after surfing. He didn’t actually want me to skate, but it was my favorite toy. I would steal his board. He would skate every day with his friends and I’d always get in the way. I would not want to walk anywhere, just skate,” she said, according to Olympics.com.
During her journey to the Olympics, Brown suffered several injuries falling from a ramp during training last year. She fractured her skull, broke her left arm and wrist, and had lacerations on her heart and lungs.
And just before the Olympic qualifier she broke her arm. She competed wearing a protective cast and came in first, BBC News reports.
It appears nothing can deter the teen. “I like to do tricks that boys are doing because I feel like some boys think girls can’t do what boys can do. I want to go to the same height as them and push the boundaries for girls,” she said, Olympics.com reports.
Skateboarding is new to the Olympics this year – and even a preteen competitor has medaled. 12-year-old Kokona Hiraki of Japan earned silver in the women’s park event.