Youngster set to become Britain’s youngest summer Olympian
Brown will be 12 years old at start of Tokyo Games in 2020
She’s already the world’s youngest professional skateboarder, with an Instagram following of 300,000 hanging on her every video, from leaping off buses to 720 spins. Now Sky Brown, a 10-year-old from Japan, is set to become Britain’s youngest ever competitor at a summer Olympics after switching her allegiance to the UK.
If Brown qualifies for the Tokyo 2020 Games, and insiders at Skateboard GB believe it is highly likely, she will be just 12 years and 15 days on the opening day of the skateboarding event. That would eclipse the longstanding British record of Margery Hinton, who was 13 years and 43 days when she competed in the 200m breaststroke back at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.
“Hopefully I can go to Tokyo because I want to go there while I am young and to show every girl that you can do everything,” says Brown, who learned to skateboard aged four and landed her first professional deal at seven. “It doesn’t matter about your age. You can just go for it even though you are little.”
Last year Brown had indicated that she wanted to compete for the country of her birth. However she has now changed her mind. And since skateboarding has never been an Olympic event before – meaning Brown has not competed for Japan – she was able to switch immediately.
You might expect such a precocious talent to be a hyper-competitive enfant terrible. However Brown’s laidback and sweet personality has won her plenty of fans outside sport too. Speaking about her philosophy on her vlog before winning a big skateboarding event in Estonia last month she smiled as she said: “Be brave, be strong, have fun – and do it because you love it.”
Brown, who was born in Miyazaki in southern Japan, has a Japanese mother, Mieko, and an English father, Stu. Speaking last year, Stu said that his daredevil daughter had loved skateboarding from a very early age. “You have a little girl and you want to wrap her in cotton wool,” he admitted. “But it was the one toy she kept going back to. She used to get burnt constantly by older boys and grown men. But instead of backing down she just got fired up and is on a mission.”
In 2016, she became the youngest competitor in the Vans United States Open Pro Series, where she competed against women nearly twice her height, and has since won tournaments in the UK, Estonia, Sweden and Singapore.
She is not the only talented one in her family either – she practises with her little brother, Ocean, who at seven looks likely to follow in her wheel tracks. And despite the growing adulation and worldwide attention they are both getting, their father insists he keeps their feet very much on the ground.
“Skating has never been about being better than anybody,” he added. “For them, it’s just been about fun and we want to keep that. They get asked to do a lot of contests around the world and are even offered money, stays in nice hotels and free flights, but we are trying to keep them away from that.
“Sky and Ocean don’t understand fame and we don’t want it to go to their heads, but as parents we are super proud.”
Lucy Adams, the chair of Skateboard England and Skateboard GB, told the Guardian that they were delighted when Brown’s father approached them to talk about competing for Britain and Sky is set to be named in the squad on Thursday.
“Sky loves skateboarding and she has a passion for it,” she said. “She’s already the best female in Britain. She is very consistent, has got some great moves and is able to hang onto them without falling.”
Brown won the 2019 Simple Sessions tournament in Estonia in February – the biggest competition in Europe – after finishing in the top 10 of the prestigious 2018 Vans Park Series and coming second in the respected 2017 Asian Continental Finals. “She beat some really top girls and women,” Adams added. “And I would say she pretty much won with ease.”
She believes that Brown has all the tools to qualify for Tokyo – and that her talent and personality will encourage British girls to try out skateboarding, which makes its debut in the Olympics next year along with surfing, climbing and karate.
“Sky loves the sport and has a passion for it,” she said. “I’m sure her journey will inspire a new generation to take part in the sport.”
Brown is also an accomplished surfer, and last year showed another of her talents when she was crowned the first-ever champion of Dancing with the Stars: Juniors in the US, alongside her partner JT Church.
Amazingly, if Brown was to make it to Tokyo she would be only the second youngest overall British Olympian. First place would still be held by Cecilia Colledge, who was just 11 years and 73 days when she competed in the figure skating competition in the Lake Placid Winter Olympics in 1932, finishing eighth.