|Dates: 23 July-8 August Time in Tokyo: BST +8|
|Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and online; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and Sounds; live text and video clips on BBC Sport website and app.|
After making history by becoming Great Britain’s youngest Olympic medal winner of all time, skateboarder Sky Brown is already plotting her next move – in surfing.
Her father, Stu, revealed he dissuaded his daughter from trying to compete in surfing as well as skateboarding in Tokyo, but admits he may be powerless to stop her again.
“It’ll be up to her by then. She’ll be 16, and it’s hard enough now,” he joked.
Sky goes surfing most days before school and has competed at junior levels, finishing second in an aerial surfing invitational in Texas.
There could be one issue making it challenging for Sky to realise her ambition – the surfing is due to be held in Tahiti, nearly 10,000 miles from the French capital where the skateboarding will take place.
The Sky’s the limit
Having never had a skateboarding coach, Sky learns most of her tricks from watching YouTube videos, and her natural sporting talent appears to transfer to the water.
Sky, who splits her time between the United States and Japan, often takes advantage of the Californian climate and surfs with her dad, and brother Ocean.
When asked whether it was possible to compete in both events in 2024, she said: “Maybe. I really hope so – I’m definitely going to try [to compete in] surfing.
“I’m going to go surf a lot after here. I’m excited to see my brother again.”
But that’s for 2024. For now, Sky says she is living a “dream” after skateboarding success at Tokyo 2020. It’s been quite the journey.
The comeback kid
Warning: external video from Sky’s Instagram account contains footage some viewers may find distressing.
If the Games were held in 2020, it’s highly unlikely Sky would have been fit to compete in Tokyo.
Stu said his daughter was “lucky to be alive” after crashing last May between two ramps while attempting a jump in training, fracturing her skull, breaking her left arm and wrist, and suffering lacerations to her heart and lungs.
Her parents wanted her to stop skating but she said: “This will not stop me. I am going for gold in Tokyo 2021.”
In June a video was posted on her Instagram showing the moment she lost control at the top of a ramp. It cut away before the fall to a shot of an air ambulance, followed by a message to her followers from her hospital bed, black eye, arm in a cast.
Nothing is normal for this incredibly talented 13-year-old but perhaps this video, which has more than two million views, underlines just how different her life is.
Sky also tumbled before her Olympic qualifier, breaking her arm, but still came first while wearing a protective cast.
She breezed into Wednesday’s final in Tokyo, making light work of her heat with the second-highest score.
It was a nervy start as she fell in her first two runs, putting her fourth going into her last effort – which she admitted she wasn’t expecting.
“I thought I was gonna get it. I was a little shocked after the first run. Then after the second fall, I was like, ‘Am I gonna make it?’
“Sakura [Yosozumi, Japan’s gold medal winner] told me: ‘You got it, Sky. We know you’re gonna make it’. That really made me feel better.”
Words of encouragement from her dad also helped.
“He was like: ‘You know, it’s just a contest. It doesn’t define you.’ That made me feel better – it is just a contest and if you fall, that’s what it is,” added Sky.
The teenager, who celebrated her 13th birthday just 16 days before the opening ceremony in Tokyo, showed incredible composure to get a clean final run and complete the kickflip indy – the trick that wiped her out in her first two attempts – to seal the bronze with a score of 56.47.
‘I believed in myself’
Sky, who was born a month before the Beijing Olympics in 2008, speaks incredibly maturely for a teenager. After finishing on the podium said she hoped more young girls would follow in her footsteps.
“I really hope I inspire young girls. I feel like people aren’t too young that they can’t do it, but if you believe in yourself you can do anything. I believed in myself,” she said.
“Anyone can do skateboarding. You don’t have to be of a certain height or have to be a certain age – you can do it whenever you want. You’ve just got to skate and go for it.”
Sky Brown facts
- Sky’s dad Stu is English, but he moved to the United States in his teens. He and Sky’s mum Mieko met in Japan, where both Mieko and Sky were born and the family – which also includes Sky’s brother Ocean – are now based.
- Skateboarding runs in the family; Stu first introduced his daughter to the sport while competing as an amateur, alongside his work in marketing.
- Her skateboarding commitments – her first Olympic qualifier was in Long Beach when she was 10 – mean she splits her time between California and Miyazaki.
- Because her sporting career is so hectic and requires so much travel, Sky only attends school – in Orange County – twice a week and tops up her learning online.
- Sky also loves dancing and singing, and in 2018 turned down a place at the X Games to focus on the the junior edition of Dancing with the Stars – the US version of Strictly Come Dancing – which she won.
- Sky holds a number of sponsorship contracts, and was snapped up by Nike after turning professional in 2018 at the age of 10, becoming their youngest athlete.
- Stu says they chose Team GB rather than Japan because of the laid-back approach of Skateboard GB chair Lucy Adams, which matched their feelings about how to develop their daughter’s talents.