With a new sport making its debut, there will be plenty of Olympic debutants, this includes the five-member Australian Olympic Skateboarding team that will be heading to Tokyo later this month.
The team will be competing over the Park and Street events. Poppy Starr Olsen, Keegan Palmer and Kieran Woolley are chasing gold in the Park event, whilst Hayley Wilson and Shane O’Neill will contest the Street discipline.
21-year-old Poppy Starr Olsen was the first Australian woman to compete in the Summer X Games for skateboarding in 2016 and won the over 14 and over 15 World championships in 2014 and 2015 respectively. By the end of the qualification period, she was ranked fourth in the world, securing her Olympic spot.
Currently ranked seventh in the world Keegan Parker is Australia’s top ranked skater in the men’s park competition and will be chasing his first major title.
17-year-old Kieran Woolley is the youngest member of the Australian team, has returned from injury in 2019 to qualify for the Olympics earning a place in the men’s park event off the back of his world ranking.
Shane O’Neill has seen his fair share of success in the past five years, winning World Championship gold and silver, along with silver at the 2016 X Games in Oslo.
Hayley Wilson has earned her stripes at the age of 19, having won multiple national championships and ranking inside the top 10 in the world in street skateboarding.
Ian Chesterman, Chef de Mission for the Australian Olympic Team, congratulated the athletes on their special achievement of being five of the first athletes to ever compete in the sport.
“Congratulations to Hayley, Poppy, Keegan, Kieran and Shane on being selected to Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo,” Mr Chesterman said.
“Any Olympic debut is a special achievement, but to be your sport’s first-ever Olympians is a unique honour and a proud accomplishment.
“The whole Olympic family is so excited to have Skateboarding on the program and I’m sure millions of Australians watching the Olympics from home will be cheering on our skaters.
“These five athletes have been through a long and difficult qualification pathway and have performed at an extremely high standard. I’m sure they will proudly represent Australia on and off the course.
“While it’s a great day for these five athletes, I also want to highlight the families, friends, teammates, coaches and everyone at Skate Australia that have helped make this Olympic dream a reality.”
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Hayley Wilson was overjoyed to make the Australian Olympic team, determined to take home the first gold medal in women’s street.
“It’s such an honour to be a part of the first ever skate team going to the Olympics,” Wilson said.
“To be going down in history is a feeling that can’t be described.”
“I came from a small town where when I was younger I didn’t have the opportunity or facilities like there were in Melbourne, so to now be skating at the Olympics is so wild. I think it shows that anything is possible.
“My goal for Tokyo is definitely to bring home gold and make Australia proud. But more than that I want to make myself proud by doing the best I can, I’ve worked so hard for this so whatever the result is I’m going to be over the moon. The fact I get to represent my country is an achievement in itself.”
31-year-old Shane O’Neill is feeling very positive about skateboarding’s Olympic debut.
“It feels great to have qualified for the first time our will be showcased at the Olympics,” O’Neill said.
“Having skating at the Olympics gives new and old fans great insight into how competition-style skateboarding works.
“I think this will be the most competitive event to date for us skateboarders and in Tokyo, I want to do something in the contest that may have not been seen before.
“I’d love for the Olympics to intrigue some new people to go get their first board and give it a try, to be able to enjoy it in their own way.
“Some enjoy it for the competition side of things but most enjoy just cruising down the street and learning tricks, so I’m hoping we can encourage people to go find out how enjoyable riding a skateboard really is.”
Australia’s highest ranked skater, Poppy Starr Olsen encouraged new eyes to the sport to enjoy the show that will be put on in Tokyo.
“It feels pretty surreal and amazing to become an Olympian, knowing you’ve worked so hard for something,” Olsen said.
“There’s so many beautiful parts to skateboarding, to be able to showcase it on another level with some of your best friends, skating in an amazing country is an honour and will be such a cool adventure.
“Aussie fans are in for a great show. I’m excited for how fun and outrageous skateboarding is and for that to be shown to the world.
“To have people that aren’t skaters supporting us and cheering us on is amazing and hopefully we can inspire some kids to have a crack. It means so much to be on this team and to showcase something that I love and that I’m passionate about.”
Skate Australia President Karen Doyle was thrilled to see the five athletes announced.
“I am extremely proud to congratulate Hayley, Poppy, Shane, Keegan and Kieran on their selection to the Australian Olympic Team as the first Australian Olympians for Skateboarding,” Doyle said.
“Everyone at Skate Australia wishes you all well on this historic journey and cannot wait to cheer you on!”
Australian Skateboarding Team
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The Skateboarding competition will run from 25-26 July for Street and 4-5 August for Park at the Ariake Urban Sports Park.