The youth movement is on at the 2021 Olympics.
Medals were awarded Monday morning for the women’s street skateboarding competition for the first time in Olympic history. All three of the victors were teenagers.
Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, 13, took home the gold medal. Brazil’s Rayssa Leal, 13, took home the silver. The eldest of the bunch — 16-year-old Funa Nakayama of Japan — earned the bronze.
“I’m simply very, very delighted. I am so happy,” Nishiya told reporters after her victory, per CNN. She also added that her win had “nothing to do with her age.”
Nonetheless, skateboarding was always expected to skew toward a younger crowd. It had one of the largest age gaps between competitors of any sport in the Olympics, as 12-year-old Kokona Hiraki and 46-year-old Rune Glifberg both participated in events in Tokyo.
Hend Zaza, a 12-year-old Syrian table tennis player, is the youngest athlete at the 2021 Olympics. After her, the next five youngest athletes are all female skateboarders. As such, it’s no surprise that half the competitors in the women’s street final were younger than 18.
The youth appeal of skateboarding was part of the reason that the IOC added it as one of the Olympics’ five new sports ahead of the Tokyo Games, as the governing body explained in a news release.
The five sports offer a key focus on youth, which is at the heart of the Games vision for Tokyo 2020. They represent a combination of well-established and emerging sports with significant popularity in Japan and beyond. They include team sports and individual sports; indoor sports and outdoor sports; and ‘urban’ sports with a strong appeal to youth.
And the younger generation of skateboarders has the more seasoned generation of competitors feeling good about the future of the previously male-dominated sport.
“I was like, ‘We’re finally here,'” fourth-place finisher Alexis Sablone said, per The New York Times. “Female skateboarders have reached critical mass. There’s enough now that there will be prodigies. And they’re here.”