Skateboarding: How the Olympics has seen a rise in popularity
Skateboarding is set to have a resurgence in popularity after being part of the Olympic games for the first time at Tokyo 2020, and Sky Brown winning a bronze medal for Team GB.
Neil Ellis is the engagement manager at Skateboard GB, the governing body for Skateboarding in Great Britain, and has been a skateboarder for more than 20 years.
He said: “The Olympics have been amazing and creating such a buzz within the team, now that it is finally here.
“Many of my friends children are wanting a skateboard this summer and even more exciting, most of them are girls picking up a board for the first time.”
There are 1,600 skateparks across the UK and 65 in East and West Sussex including in Brighton, Hastings, Eastbourne, Burgess Hill and Bognor Regis.
And it seems the Olympics has inspired many of you to pick up a board.
Sue Long, commented on the Chichester Observer Facebook page: “The skateboarding and BMX were wonderful to watch, loved it! Bit old to be taking it up myself, but hope it inspires a new generation to get stuck in, persevere and practice. Great these new urban events give young people the chance to shine that doesn’t cost a fortune in equipment (e.g. events such as cycling, rowing, equestrian etc). Well done Team GB!”
Danielle Burton, on Hastings Observer, said: “I already skate and my son skates and BMX’s - so we visit the skatepark anyway. But if the Olympics and in particular the women’s events inspire more girls to take it up then that is amazing.”
Helen Bradshaw, on the Littlehampton Gazette, said: “I loved watching the skateboarding. My son is a regular at the skate park.”
Dale Lay is the founder of South Coast Skate Club, a not for profit organisation set up to promote the positive impact skateboarding can have on young people to help them in their own self development and growth.
He said: “We use skateboards as a tool to improve peoples confidence and self esteem by helping people to learn that failures are a part of life and to see those falls and failures as a positive step towards achieving your goals in life and on the skateboard.”
He adds that the skate community has always been a tight knit group and very protective of each other.
He said: “It can also be a home away from home for those people that may be struggling to find their way in life as they go through the teenage years and transition into adulthood, we work very closely with a lot of young people that need that break from their immediate family but also need that safe space to go to.”
Based in Worthing it covers a lot of West Sussex, including Shoreham, Lancing and Bognor Regis and offers free skateboard meet ups with hints and tips on how to skateboard.
Neil from Skateboard GB said that since being featured on the Olympics it has seen a 30 per cent increase in traffic to its website with people searching for skateboard lessons and a 200 per cent growth in skatepark searches on the MySkate App.
He added: “Skateboarding at the Olympics has also given it a level of legitimacy.
“It allows us to engage with local authorities and landowners and make the case for creating shareable, skateable spaces in urban areas, which is great moving forward.
“The best thing about skateboarding is the culture, you go down to the skatepark or skate the streets with others and learn new tricks with your friends. It is such an amazing community to be involved with, not just great exercise or the buzz you from landing tricks, but the social aspect and everything that goes with it.”
Skateboarding is also a really easy sport to get started in as all you need a skateboard, which Neil recommends buying from a skateboard shop and can cost about £50, then learn the basics before hitting the ramps.
Katie Herr is clerk to Angmering Parish Council, she said: “We have a skatepark in Angmering, it is just known as mainly Angmering Skate Park or Angmering Bowl.
“Skateboarding in the Olympics was so exciting to watch. It bought it to the masses and showed just how much skill is involved.
“We not only have a skate bowl but also a BMX track which has also proved to be a popular sport to watch at the Olympics.”
She added: “I know that Littlehampton Skate Park is usually very busy with all ages and abilities. There is a new skateboard shop called Board AF by the crazy golf just up from the skate park.
“We would obviously love to see more riders at our skatepark enjoying the facility.”
There are a number of skatepark installation companies across the UK, and Maverick Skateparks has built a few across Sussex including in Midhurst, Haywards Heath and Littlehampton.
Russ Holbert, a director from Maverick Skateparks, said: “At Maverick we design and build spray concrete skateparks. We have built a few in Sussex and are keen to do more.”
On what makes a good skate park he says high quality design and build.
“We work with local riders to design and build a facility that meets their needs,” he explained. “It’s so cool to see all the nippers getting into skateboarding, it is a super exciting time for the sport.
“It’s time to invest in skateboarding. It brings such a positive change to so many people’s lives.”
Post-Olympics Skateboard GB was awarded funding via UK Sport’s Progression Investment stream to test, trial and build a pathway, called ‘Pipeline Pilot Project’, that identifies and supports good skateboarders to become even better and achieve success on the world stage.
It is hoped the project will build on the success Tokyo and kick-start the search for the next generation of Olympic and Paralympic champions.
Skateboarding has been confirmed as being part of the Paris 2024 Olympic line up.
Dale’s advice for anyone who wants to try is: “Just when you turn up to a skatepark take your time, don’t jump in, watch where you’re going try not to get in people’s way or cut in front of people (snaking), communicate with each other whether it’s verbal or gestures, take turns, don’t sit on ramps, once you’ve had a go wait for another turn and if your not sure about skatepark etiquette ask someone. All this is information is gold if you make sure you do this other skatepark users will give you a lot more respect and it will be easier to be welcomed into the community.”
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