By Rory Carroll, Reuters
Twelve-year-old skateboarding prodigy Sky Brown said she has fully recovered from her life-threatening fall last May and plans to broaden her horizons by adding surfing to her Olympic schedule.
Brown, who will be the only female member of Team GB when skateboarding makes its highly-anticipated debut in July, suffered skull fractures and a broken wrist and hand after she fell from a half-pipe in Southern California.
She was taken by helicopter to the hospital where she underwent surgery and her father Stewart later said she was lucky to be alive.
Brown said the experience has only added fuel to her considerable fire.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” a beaming Brown told Reuters in an interview from her home in Oceanside, California.
“It just made me feel like I want to push harder, go stronger and show that even if you fall, you’ve got to get back up.”
Brown has excelled on both boards from an early age and would be a formidable dual-threat Olympian.
“I love surfing as much as I love skating,” said Brown, who won bronze at the 2019 World Skateboarding Championship in the sport’s park discipline.
“That would be my dream.”
A spokesperson for Brown said it is still possible for her to qualify for Britain’s surfing team in Tokyo but she would first need to compete in the British Cup, and it is unclear if she will allowed to do so.
If not, she will have to wait until the Paris Olympics come around in three years time.
Competing in both sports would greatly expand Brown’s medal-earning opportunities and make her a potentially transformational Olympic figure at a time when the Games are trying to appeal to a younger demographic.
When the Los Angeles Games roll around in 2028, she will still be a teenager. If she can stay healthy, her potential is staggering.
Like every Olympic athlete, Brown, who was born to a Japanese mother and a British father, was forced to cope with the disappointment of the one-year delay of the Tokyo Games.
She used the time to improve on all aspects of her skating.
“I think I got better” she said.
“I’m going higher now, I’ve learned some new tricks and I can’t wait. It’s going to be really cool.
“All the girls are getting better too, so now we’ll just have a better show.”
Brown said staying active during the pandemic has been a key to her well-being and inspired her to partner with Plum Play, which makes backyard equipment like trampolines and climbing structures.
Through her fall and recovery, Brown has remained upbeat and focused on inspiring others, especially aspiring female athletes.
“Be brave, be strong, have fun and do it because you love it,” she said. “And don’t let anybody stop you.”
The Tokyo Games begin on July 23.