August 4, 2021

By Mari Saito

TOKYO (Reuters) – Young skaters from Japan and Britain soared to victory in the women’s park competition on Wednesday, with hometown heroes Sakura Yosozumi and Kokona Hiraki cinching gold and silver, while Britain’s Sky Brown took bronze.

In the gripping finals, Yosozumi, 19, landed two 540s in her impressive first run, earning the highest score of 60.09 to vault to top place.

Hiraki, 12, consistently showed smooth runs throughout Wednesday’s competition and took second place with her best score of 59.04.

Britain’s Brown, 13, was the favourite to win the women’s event but stumbled in her first two runs, with her final display of 540 spins and flip indies failing to vault her to a higher spot on the podium.

Far from the empty swimming pools of 1970s Southern California where this type of skating was born, skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo marks a turning point for the sport.

At times, the young skaters looked impossibly small against the giant grey and purple ramps and bowls at the Ariake Urban Sports Park that is emblazoned with the five Olympic rings. (This story corrects headline and lead to clarify silver medallist is 12 years old, not a teen)

(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Lincoln Feast.)