TOKYO (Japan) -Japanese 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya clinched the Olympic title in the women’s street skateboarding competition on Monday, shedding tears of happiness after nailing her final trick and becoming the country’s youngest-ever gold medal winner.
Nishiya came out on top of an unusually young field of competitors, with all three medalists in their teens. Brazilian silver medallist Rayssa Leal is also 13, while bronze medallist Funa Nakayama, also from Japan, is 16.
Her victory brought a skateboarding double for Japan after Yuto Horigome won gold in the men’s street event on Sunday, claiming the first gold medal for the sport in Olympic history.
“I welled up in tears because I was beyond happy,” Nishiya said, describing the moment when she realised she had won gold.
Though Nishiya said she was “stressed out” after initially stumbling and missing key landings on her first two tricks, she landed her final three, earning 4.66 on her fourth, bringing her total above Brazilian prodigy Leal.
In a surprise twist, Nishiya’s Japanese team mate, Aori Nishimura, 19, struggled after repeatedly stumbling in the finals and coming last. Nishimura currently holds the No. 1 ranking according to Worldskate.
On Monday athletes again competed in front of empty stands without roars of approval from fans when they landed difficult moves, as spectators were kept away in Tokyo due to anti-COVID-19 measures.
Instead, dozens of videos of fans cheering and waving from home were projected onto a giant screen next to the street competition course.
Bronze medalist Nakayama, who used to take the overnight bus to Tokyo from Toyama in central Japan just to practice skating, said she hoped the Japanese skaters’ successes would encourage more young women to take up the sport.
“I want more rivals, which will make skating more fun,” she said.