‘It’s like a dream’: Sky Brown delights in Olympic medal a year after horror crash
What do you say when you’ve just become the youngest person ever to win an Olympic medal for Great Britain? For Sky Brown, the extraordinarily gifted kid who won bronze in the women’s park skateboarding, it was the same stuff any happy teenager might come out with. “I’m so stoked. I can’t believe it. It’s unbelievable. It’s like a dream.”
Brown, who turned 13 at the start of July, was not even the youngest athlete on the podium. The silver medal was won by Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, who is 12 until 26 August. The last athlete who won a medal that young did so at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.
Once Brown has finished with the world’s press and recorded a couple of updates for her social media streams, she plans to celebrate by having a party and then going surfing when she gets back to her home in Oceanside, California. It is not just a hobby. Brown wants to qualify for the British surfing team at the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“I really hope so, I’m definitely going to try surfing,” she said. “I’m going to go surf a lot after here. I’m excited to see my brother again, and I’m going to go and party with my friends.”
The Olympic surfing competition is being held in Tahiti in 2024, which may make it hard to double up with the skateboard event. Still, her father, Stu, who is from Cornwall, said he would let her if that’s what she wanted to do. Listening to him, and to her, he probably wouldn’t have that much choice. Brown is irrepressible.
Last year, Brown had a horrific crash while she was attempting a trick on a mega ramp. It left her with multiple skull fractures, lacerated lungs and a broken left arm. “That accident was pretty bad,” she said. Her parents tried to persuade her to quit skateboarding “but I kind of knew I was always going to come here. But it was a hard time for my parents and a hard time for a lot of people, and coming back and getting the bronze is really cool. I’m really happy. It’s really made me stronger.”
Brown had a couple of smaller falls in the final in Tokyo, too, trying to land a particular trick – a kickflip indy – which she finally nailed on the third attempt. “I just wanted to land it,” she said. “I didn’t really care what place I got. I wanted to land my trick.”
When she did it, she moved up into third place and got to share the podium with her best friend, Sakura Yosozumi, who won the gold. Brown has a Japanese mother and the family spend half the year here. She and Yosozumi often skate together. “It’s insane to be here, Sakura is one of my best friends and Kokona is a good friend too, so being on the podium together is so fun,” she said.
When they weren’t skating, they spent the competition cheering for each other. People in the skating community worried that the pressure of Olympic competition would change the sport and the way the skaters behave with each other. But Brown did not agree.
“I don’t think it has changed, I think it has actually brought us closer,” Brown said. “I really hope I can inspire some girls. I feel like people think I’m too young, so I can’t do it but, if you believe in yourself, you can do anything. I believed in myself and I’m here!”