“Diamond of Kimberley” skates straight to the Olympics


Top athlete Boipelo Awuah will be the only African skateboarder to compete in the Tokyo 2020 female street skateboard competition. Photo: @erwythereyet / Twitter

SPORT


Boipelo Awuah will in all likelihood be the youngest member of the SA team to head to the Olympics, which will kick off in Tokyo, Japan, in two weeks.

Within months, the 15-year-old went from being a local heroine to skateboarding in her first international competition, then meeting her idols on the world stage.

To top it off, the 10th grade student from Kimberley in the Northern Cape recently landed her ticket to the Olympics as the only African skateboarder in the women’s street skateboarding competition in Italy.

“It was crazy; I went from national skating competitions to the world championships out of nowhere, but it was a great experience,” Awuah said of the World Skateboard Championships which took place in Rome between May and last month.

It still doesn’t seem real today as some athletes spend their entire lives training right now, to get to the Olympics

Boipelo Awuah

“It sank recently after I got back from Rome – that’s when it all sank and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to the Olympics! “

“It still doesn’t seem real today because some athletes spend their entire lives training right now, to get to the Olympics.”

Awuah, who first bought a skateboard at the age of five, nurtured the dream of representing South Africa at the highest level, but the Olympics never really entered his orbit.

Skateboarding will make its debut at the Tokyo Olympics this year and Awuah will be among the 80 athletes who innovate for the sport.

“Coming into Tokyo, I want to be able to perform at my best… I’m not going there thinking about winning and all that. I want to do my best and come back with no regrets, ”Awuah said.

Boipelo Awuah

Boipelo Awuah will in all likelihood be the youngest member of the SA team to head to the Olympics, which will kick off in Tokyo, Japan, in two weeks. Photo: @ erwythereyet / Twitter

She admits that women’s skateboarding in South Africa and the continent is still in its infancy, and hopes its story will inspire a revival.

For a long time, skateboarding in South Africa did not have a formal administrative body and it is only in recent years that it has been placed under the responsibility of a recognized federation. Two years ago, Roller Sport SA tentatively adopted skateboarding to help athletes travel to international competitions to earn points towards qualifying for the Games.

The sporting body hosted the country’s first national championships for skateboarders in December.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he organized the second championships six months later to provide athletes with an additional opportunity to earn points.

The top two athletes in each discipline and gender category were selected for the World Championships, which served as the final qualifying competition for Tokyo.

Awuah won both national championships to secure a qualifying place in Rome, where she qualified as the best female skater in Africa in her discipline.

His street skateboarding exploits have earned him the nickname The Diamond of Kimberley.

“I have always dreamed of representing my country and skating at international events. I hope this is just the start and that I learn from this experience of representing South Africa at the Olympics and hopefully winning at the Paris 2024 Olympics, ”he said. she declared.

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Growing up, Awuah “stole” his older brother’s skateboard whenever he left it at home. She was skating out of sight of her protective parents, who initially did not approve of her skateboard.

His mother eventually gave in and allowed him to go to the local skatepark with his father.

” That’s where it all began. I bought my own skateboard and was excited to have one of my own, ”she recalls.

“I remember falling into a quarter pipe [a smooth-surfaced wall with a curved base used for performing stunts in skateboarding] … I tipped over and fell on my head. I was about seven at this point, but I was so excited.

“To this day, my mom still doesn’t watch me skate because I fall so badly. I just got up [and tried again until] I understood well.

I really want to leave this legacy behind and feel like I’ve already started to lead the way

Boipelo Awuah

Falling is normal, but learning new tricks in a place like Kimberley can be difficult. Even though the city is considered the capital of the Northern Cape, it is small compared to other major cities in South Africa.

Much of Awuah’s skills are self-taught, as she took some advice from other skateboarders she spends time with. She also turned to YouTube, but the videos were no substitute for the real world experience.

“I don’t have a coach so it’s all learned on my own. I’m learning all these new tricks myself, but our manager is also a skateboarder and I will ask my manager or some of my peers for advice, ”she said.

Awuah got to hang out with some of her skate idols at the World Championships in Italy, and she got some great advice as well.

She hopes to become the first South African woman to turn professional in the sport and help develop skateboarding for girls and women.

She credits much of her success to competing with boys at her local skatepark, but hopes to see more girls experience the joy of pulling off their first trick.

“I really want to leave this legacy behind and I feel like I’ve already started to lead the way.” – Olympics.com


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