‘I don’t feel pressure’: Sky Brown on her skating glory and surfing dream | Sean Ingle

by 24britishtvMarch 26, 2024, 9 p.m. 17
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Over a breathless hour on Tuesday morning Team GB’s 15‑year‑old skateboarding star, Sky Brown, lit up the London skyline with her dazzling repertoire of tricks – all from a floating half-pipe on the River Thames overlooking Tower Bridge.

Commuters gawped. Schoolkids pointed. And while a drone buzzed constantly around her, capturing all her handplants, aerials and trademark Japan Air trick for a new campaign for Tag Heuer, she never missed a beat.

It was the same afterwards when talk turned to the pressure Brown was facing before the Paris Olympics, and she shrugged her shoulders and displayed maturity beyond her years. “I don’t feel pressure, honestly, having done it in Tokyo already,” she says. “It just makes me want to show my new tricks even more. It’s just exciting for me. Skating is really not about the medals. It’s about the show you put on for everyone. I always just want to show my best, and the beautiful part of skateboarding.”

She looks stronger than she did three years ago – when, aged 13 years and 28 days, she made Olympic history with a bronze medal in the park event. She feels it, too. “I have definitely grown up a little bit. I haven’t got that much taller, but I definitely feel like my skateboarding has become stronger. I’ve learnt some new tricks. I’m growing as a person and it’s really cool.”

Her only disappointment is that her ambitions of an audacious cross‑continent Olympic skateboarding and surfing double, flitting between Paris and Tahiti, have ended after she just missed out on qualifying for the surfing event. “That was a little bit of a bummer because I came super close. I was one spot away from qualifying for both but I know I’ve got LA ahead so I’m going to aim for that and get two gold medals for GB.”

Which sport does she prefer? “Oh, I get this question a lot and every time I explain it’s like ramen and ice-cream. When you have too much ramen, you want some ice-cream.”

Later a PR person explains that Brown has been a joy to deal with – in front of the camera and away from it. Multiple TV interviews are handled with the skill of a veteran. After each take a hair and makeup person combs and sprays her hair, and then she is away again. And when the man from TAG Heuer steps into the press huddle to ask about how she is finding her watch, she knows just what to say. “I get a lot of compliments about the watch, all my friends are jealous,” she says. “And being able to wear it in the ocean too is really helpful.”

This is the life Brown has chosen. But she insists she loves every moment of it – the studying, travelling and trying to be world class in two events. “Honestly, it’s super easy. Because this is a lifestyle for me, skating and surfing. I try to wake up early, at around 5am-ish and be the first one into the water. I then come in, eat food, do school and then go to the skate park. And if the waves are still good I will then surf again and then hang out with my friends and have dinner with my family.”

She doesn’t mind the attention, either – and knows that comes with the territory when you have more than 1 million Instagram followers. “Going around the world and having people recognise me kind of everywhere is really special to me. I’ve always wanted to inspire and people telling me that just really gives me a fire in my heart to really do it for them.”

Next month she will even launch her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Skateboarding, which is a part biography and part guide to the sport. “I have always wanted to inspire and spread my message. I wrote a song. And I thought a book could be another good way and I’m really excited it’s out soon.”

On this evidence little seems to faze Brown, although she does admit it was a little disconcerting that on her way over from Los Angeles an engine blew out on her plane on the runway. “We had to get off one of the planes, we were about to take off and we just hit the brakes. I was going from LA to New York. We ended up going to Minnesota and then to here.”

It turns out that was just another obstacle to glide over. On the way to more breathless tricks, more dazzling performances and, you suspect, more medal moments.

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