Sport Sakura Yosozumi wins Japan’s third skateboarding gold medal

Sakura Yosozumi wins Japan’s third skateboarding gold medal

Japan's Sakura Yosozumi excels in the women's park final at Ariake Sports Park on Wednesday. Photo: Getty
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Welcome to Japan – the new undisputed Mecca of skateboarding.

The host nation’s domination of the new Olympic sport rolled on unabated on Wednesday, 19-year-old Sakura Yosozumi winning the women’s park event to go with double Japanese gold in the street event in the early days of the Tokyo Games.

And like the women’s street, it was again a youngster-dominated podium with 12-year-old Kokona Hiraki claiming silver and 13-year-old Brit Sky Brown taking the bronze.

Both Hiraki and Brown became their nation’s youngest ever Olympic medallists, Hiraki falling just 1.05 points shy of becoming the youngest to win gold in Olympic history.

But she is the Games’ youngest medallist since 1936.

Poppy Olsen, who can now lay claim to being the first Australian to make an Olympic skateboarding final, finished fifth.

Japan’s dominance has been astonishing given the sport’s relative obscurity in the country, with all three gold medallists speaking of their desire to use the Olympics as a springboard for acceptance in their home country.

Acceptance or not, Japanese riders are a force now, having collected five of the nine medals handed out so far in Tokyo.

“I’m so happy to be able to win the gold medal at the first Olympic Games for skateboard park,” Yosozumi said.

“We (her and Hiraki) like to skateboard. This competition which was held at my country made us stronger from what we used to be. I want everyone to love skateboarding. I hope that it will be a famous sport in Japan.”

Yosozumi laid down a score no one could catch with her first ride in the final, with each competitor having three 45-second rides to put up their best score.

The winning run included two 540 spins off the walls of the huge skate bowl, rotating herself one and half times in the air before landing back on her board.

Still, she could not be certain of gold until the last moment, with Brown and world No.1 Misugu Okamoto the last two to have a run.

Brown, having failed to finish either of her two previous rides, did enough to secure third, while it was agony for Okamoto – the reigning World Championships and X-Games champion – who fell on her final run to fall short of making an all-Japanese podium.

“My goal is not to get gold medal but I’ll do my routines. Today I couldn’t do those,” Okamoto said.

Olsen came off on her first run in the final to post a 35.20, but the 21-year-old then produced a solid second ride of 46.04, which was just 1.5 out of medal contention at the time.

She put it all on the line in her final effort, but what looked like a promising score capable of pushing up into the medals came unstuck with a spill in the final seconds.