13-year-old Momiji Nishiya clinches Olympic skateboarding gold for Japan
Japanese 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya clinched the Olympic title in the women’s street skateboarding competition on Monday, shedding tears of happiness after nailing her final trick and becoming the country’s youngest-ever gold medal winner.
Nishiya came out on top of an unusually young field of competitors, with all three medallists in their teens. Brazilian silver medallist Rayssa Leal is also 13, while bronze medallist Funa Nakayama, also from Japan, is 16.
Her victory brought a skateboarding double for Japan after Yuto Horigome won gold in the men’s street event on Sunday, claiming the first gold medal for the sport in Olympic history.
“I welled up in tears because I was beyond happy,” Nishiya said, describing the moment when she realised she had won gold.
Though Nishiya said she was “stressed out” after initially stumbling and missing key landings on her first two tricks, she landed her final three, earning 4.66 on her fourth, bringing her total above Brazilian prodigy Leal.
In a surprise twist, Nishiya’s Japanese teammate, Aori Nishimura, 19, struggled after repeatedly stumbling in the finals and coming last.
Earlier in the day after the heats, Nishimura’s father, Tetsuo, told Reuters that his daughter had hurt herself the day before during practice and was in a wheelchair on Sunday night. Nishimura currently holds the No. 1 ranking according to Worldskate.
As athletes continued to compete in front of empty stands, Brazil’s Leal had by far the liveliest supporters, with comparative veterans Pamela Rosa and Leticia Bufoni in her corner in the finals. They comforted Leal after she broke down in tears following a failed trick.
By the end of the event Leal had cheered up, telling reporters she wanted to have a party with friends when she returned to Brazil.
Asked by a reporter how she would respond to people who said girls can’t skate, Leal said there should be no gender barrier in sports.
On Monday, as Japan led the medals table, local sentiment towards the pandemic-delayed Games appeared to shift and local fans defied organisers to grab a glimpse of the spectacle. Fans gathered along the route of the triathlon, grabbing a rare opportunity to see live competition.