Sky Brown, the 11-year-old skateboarding star, is pulling off a series of sensational tricks around the tarmac of the Youth Olympic village in Lausanne.
Brown, who is aiming to become Great Britain’s youngest-ever Olympian at the Tokyo 2020 Games, does not consider the mastery of her sport as “training”. It is much more fun than that.
“Skateboarding is a playground,” she said. “I don’t really train. I don’t have a coach. I just skate. It’s nice to learn new tricks, I want to get them right for Tokyo. I’d like to do some tricks I’ve never done in a contest before.”
Brown is being accompanied in Lausanne by her Japanese mother Mieko, her English father Stuart, and her brother Ocean, eight (another talented skateboarder).
11-year-old skateboarder Sky Brown could be @TeamGB's youngest-ever Olympian at Tokyo 2020! She takes us behind the scenes of the @Lausanne2020 Youth Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) 10 January 2020
Watch the replay of the ceremony here: https://t.co/x6ORUFMzZz@skyandocean_ @youtholympics pic.twitter.com/L11QcOznf8
And Meiko revealed the decision to compete for Great Britain was made in order to keep the pressure off her daughter. “The Team GB proposition for Sky was very relaxed,” she said.
Brown certainly seems at ease. “I don’t feel any nerves,” she said. “It will be really cool to be the youngest Olympian. People might think you’re too young or that you can’t do it, but I want to show that it’s not about your size or age.
“I want to be in the Olympics to inspire other girls, to show them you can do anything. I’m excited for Tokyo. I love Simone Biles’ attitude. She just goes for it.”
The Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games have been good preparation for a summer in which she is likely to be a media sensation.
“I wanted to come to Lausanne to get a bit of a feeling for the Olympics,” Brown said. “I wanted to see the Opening Ceremony and what that’s like, and to meet some Youth Olympic stars. Switzerland is cold, but it’s super pretty.
“My favourite winter sport is probably snowboarding, but I also like figure skating. I was on Dancing with the Stars: Juniors, and I loved that. This is similar but it’s on ice, so it’s much harder.”
With skateboarding making its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 – part of a drive to have more youth-oriented urban events at the Games – many are predicting that Brown will achieve the same kind of breakthrough as the top snowboarders have done following their sport’s introduction to the Olympic Winter Games.
11-year-old skateboarding prodigy Sky Brown moves closer to #Tokyo2020 and turns heads with a heartwarming act of generosity. @skyandocean_ @WorldSkate_news @worldskatesb @TeamGB pic.twitter.com/P70XimNdM8— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) November 18, 2019
“It’s pretty cool that people say I could be the next Chloe Kim or Shaun White, because I really look up to them,” Brown said. “And Shaun is a really good skateboarder too, he’s very cool.”
With such an assured media presence and 447,000 followers on Instagram, it is easy to forget that Brown is still just 11. But in most aspects of her life, she is just an everyday kid.
“I relax, I watch TikTok and Netflix, I love yummy food,” she said. “And I go to school. I like music and math. I’m not a great student, but I like learning stuff.”
Despite the fact that, all being well, she might soon be an Olympian, this might not be the last the Youth Olympic Games have seen of Brown.
She will be 14 at the next edition, in Dakar in 2022. “I would love to compete in Senegal,” she said. “It’s very cool being among these young athletes.”