Will Sky Brown be the Next Olympic Surfing Medallist?

Team GB's youngest Olympic medallist of all time, 13-year-old Sky Brown, who won the bronze for skateboarding in Tokyo, has spoken of her passion for surfing.

The teenage sensation won the coveted Olympic medal at the age of just 13 years and 28 days at Ariake Urban Park. She had already won a World Championship skateboarding medal prior to the Games. The Olympic victory further enhanced her standing as a fast-growing social media star.

As well as being famous on the ramps, the young pro-surfer has her own YouTube channel with brother and fellow surfer and skateboarder, Ocean. It has attracted more than 54 million views to date. Sky also has more than one million followers on Instagram.

Paris Olympics 2024

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Fight back from injury

Her victory in Tokyo was all the more remarkable because she had battled her way back from a serious injury in May 2020, after falling 15 feet from a ramp, reportedly suffering a fractured skull and a broken left wrist and hand. Airlifted unconscious to hospital, she later said it was her worst fall ever.

Her father, Stuart, said Sky was "lucky to be alive". Typically, she took it in her stride. Despite having to spend a lengthy time in hospital, she told fans, speaking from her hospital bed, "I’m just going to get back up and push even harder." She battled back to fitness, but up until April this year, Sky was unsure what sport she would play in the Olympics - she is equally skilled at surfing and skateboarding.

Dad Stuart was a skateboarder in his youth and Sky started out by emulating him and learning tricks from YouTube.

 

Olympic surfing hopes

Earlier this year, she thought she might compete in the Olympic surfing contest. In an interview in April, she confirmed she was considering both skateboarding and surfing at the delayed 2020 Olympics. However, her father dissuaded Sky from her initial ambition to compete in both sports. She has already said this is her goal for the Paris Olympics in 2024, when she will still be just 17 years old.

Sky has packed a lot into her young life already. Born on 7th July 2008, in Miyazaki, Japan, to her British father Stuart and Japanese mother Mieko; she lives in Miyazaki but also spends part of her year in the United States, where her father lived for some years.

She comes from a family of skateboarders and her pre-school had its own skate park! She has a skating ramp in her back garden but says she doesn't have a skateboarding coach, preferring to try out new tricks she has seen on YouTube.

At the age of eight, in 2016, she was the youngest skateboarder ever to take part in the Vans US Open. She came second in the Asian Continental Finals in 2017 and finished in the top ten of the Vans Park Series 2018.

In 2019, Sky announced she would represent Great Britain in international competitions. She could have represented Japan but said she favoured the British Skateboarding Association's more relaxed approach.

 

Daily surf routine

Aside from skateboarding, Sky spends a lot of time in the water. She fits her sports training schedule around school, getting up at 5am every day to hit the waves before lessons. She learned to surf as a child in Japan and her little brother is now following in her footsteps.

Sky and Ocean can often be found surfing and skateboarding in Hawaii when they get the chance. Nine-year-old Ocean, like his big sister, has been hailed a prodigy.

 

Sky surfs as soon as she gets up, heading straight for the ocean with family and friends. Then, she has breakfast before her classes start. After school, Sky goes skateboarding. If the waves are good, she will then go surfing again for the second time in the day.

In 2018, she won the talent competition, Dancing with the Stars: Juniors, with professional dancer John Talan "JT" Church, aged 12. The dancing duo paid tribute to Sky's love of surfing with a freestyle routine wearing Hawaiian shirts, dancing to Kelly Clarkson's Underneath the Tree.

 

Tony Hawk's tip for the top

While Sky is looking to surf at the next Olympics, her dedication to skateboarding can't be underestimated. She would try to imitate her skateboarding hero, the legendary Tony Hawk, who says she will become one of the best skaters in the world.

Before the Olympics, she was invited to Hawk’s very own skate park, an honour which does not happen often! He described her as having "confidence and force", even at such a young age, praising the way she was able to learn new tricks and absorb direction. He described these as "rare" attributes.

In 2019, in the X Games, Sky became the first female to successfully complete a frontside 540 in the championship. This meant she rotated one-and-a-half times in mid-air on her board.

 

Inspirational quotes

In 2020, she released a book, entitled Sky's The Limit, filled with quotes aimed at inspiring others. She says it's intended for anyone who "dares to dream". She lives her life by her own quotes, telling others to "enjoy life and try new things".

On competing in the Olympics, Sky said she hoped to inspire girls, adding, "You can't let the boys have all the fun!" She said in an interview, "If you believe in yourself, you can do anything. I believed in myself and I’m here."

With her own custom Barbie doll, she has also appeared in a music video, appropriately titled "Girl", singing the lyrics, "I gotta be strong."

Sky's dedication to surfing was apparent when she was already back on her surfboard in July 2020, only two months after the serious accident that landed her in hospital.

 

Releasing a video filmed on the Texas surf, Sky wrote to her YouTube followers, "I wasn't able to surf for so long because of my accident. I'm so thankful to finally be back in the water!"

 

Surfing with the Ladybirds

Before the Olympics, Sky was spotted surfing with the Ladybirds - the collective name for a group of talented young female surfers in the United States.

 

Stab Magazine coined the term, describing it as being a "celebration of female performance and youth" and inviting other "ladybird" surfers to "come fly with us!"

Sky went head to head in the competition against fellow young surfers Sierra Kerr, Bella Kenworthy - daughter of surf photographer Jason Kenworthy - and Caity Simmers. The contest was held in a pool, rather than in the ocean. Sky was joint winner with Sierra, who is three years her senior.

This appears to give an indication of things to come in the Olympic surfing contest in 2024. Sky has already been called "Britain's best hope" of a medal.

In 2020, it was announced British surfing would be receiving £1.35 million funding, for the first time ever, in a bid to support the sport’s medal potential and help the champions of tomorrow.

In March this year, Surfing England announced several new additions to its junior team including Sky and fellow young surfers Elliot Barton, Oscar Salt, Georgie May and Ned Hart. They are set to be the first generation of British surfers to benefit from a publicly-funded development programme.

Similar setups have been underway in Australia, France and other nations for many years, so the British contingent will be competing on a level playing field at last.