At just 13 years old, skateboarder Sky Brown already has the weight of the world on her shoulders. In addition to being the youngest participant in the Summer Olympics in Great Britain’s history, she is also a serious contender for a gold medal in the Games’ first-ever women’s park skating competition in Tokyo.
Still, Brown wouldn’t have it any other way, even if her parents weren’t exactly on-board initially.
“My parents thought it would be too much pressure, so we weren’t going to do it,” Brown said, via The Guardian.
The Brits, however, made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. “‘Come be on our team, there’s no pressure, just get out there and have fun,’” she said of the invite. “That made my parents feel a little better. But I begged and begged… ”
Now, Brown is aiming to etch her name into the Olympic history books. Here are five fast facts you need to know about the skateboarding wunderkind…
1. She’s of British and Japanese Ancestry
While Brown will be representing Great Britain at the delayed 2020 Summer Games, she is technically skating on behalf of three nations. Namely, the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States of America.
Born in Takanabe, Miyazaki, Japan in July of 2008, Brown is the product of a Japanese mother, Mieko, and a British father, Stu. And while she spends half of her time in the country of her birth, the other half is spent in the good ol’ US of A. And the cultural differences between the two nations aren’t lost on her.
“We have snack time in America but we don’t have that in Japan. We don’t even choose our food in Japanese school. They put it on our plate and we have to eat the whole thing. If you leave anything on the plate then you can’t go outside. The teacher doesn’t want us to talk while we’re eating.” she said, via the BBC. “I feel like that’s what makes me eat a lot.”
2. Although She Is Just 13 Years Old, Sky Is Already a Superstar Skater
Brown may still be a middle-schooler, but she has already accomplished more than most as a professional skateboarder. As relayed by The Guardian, she was the youngest competitor in the Vans United States Open Pro Series in 2016, competing against women nearly twice her height.
She went on to win tournaments in the UK, Estonia, Sweden and Singapore. In 2019, Brown also became the first female to land a frontside 540 in competition at the X Games, per the BBC. That same year, she captured a bronze medal at the World Skateboarding Championship.
Just last month, she captured a gold medal in the park event at the 2021 X Games.
Brown’s stardom goes well beyond her competitive results, though. Her TikTok account currently boasts 1.3 million followers and she is creeping up on the one-million mark on Instagram as well.
3. Tony Hawk Says Brown Is a ‘Unicorn’
Brown’s efforts as a skater may speak for themselves, but major players in the sport are still singing her praises. For his part, Tony Hawk — the most famous skateboarder of all time and a bona fide half-pipe legend — has been effusive in his praise of the youngster.
“She has incredible potential,” Hawk said, via ESPN. “She could definitely be one of the best female skaters ever, if not one of the best, well-rounded skaters ever, regardless of gender. She has such confidence, such force, even at such a young age. The way she’s able to learn new tricks and the way she absorbs direction, it’s so rare.”
“She’s a unicorn,” he added.
Hawk was inspired to act as a mentor of sorts to Brown. He famously coached the young star in her effort to become the first girl to attempt the mega ramp at pro skater Elliot Sloan’s place. The video footage of their outing went viral in short order.
4. A Brutal Accident Landed Brown in the ICU
Brown may have the aura of an unstoppable superstar, but she has already paid the price for her gravity-defying antics. In May of 2020, she experienced a nasty fall while attempting to transition from one large ramp to another during a run. It nearly ended her life, not to mention her skating career.
As noted by ESPN:
The footage from the accident, posted later on her social media channels, is tough to watch, as she waves her arms and legs uncontrollably, as if to slow her crash, and the video stops abruptly while whoever is recording seems to be frantically running toward her. According to Stu’s account on Instagram, Sky was in and out of consciousness and bleeding profusely while they waited for the ambulance.
She ultimately landed in the ICU where she literally fought for her life. Nevertheless, once she had stabilized, she was already angling to get back on her board as she recovered in her hospital bed.
“I’m excited to come back even stronger and even tougher,” she said at the time, via Instagram. “My heart wants to go so hard right now. I’m just waiting for my body to catch up”
5. She Won Dancing with the Stars: Juniors
Brown isn’t just about the skating life, she’s also a prolific surfer. And, in 2018, she took her natural talents to the ballroom for the sole season of Dancing with the Stars: Juniors. As with everything else in her young life, she absolutely showed out as a dancer.
Coached by ballroom and Latin-dancing vet Alan Bersten, Brown teamed up with JT Church to take the competition by storm. Over the series’ nine-week run, Brown and Church scored 22 points or more in every one of their dances, wrapping up the competition with back-to-back perfect 30s.