Skateboarding

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk tests new Olympic venue, calls it 'surreal'

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk tested out the new Olympic skate park in Tokyo's waterfront, calling the sport's adoption into the Games "surreal."

'I never imagined it would be part of the Olympic Games,' Hawk wrote

NBC Olympics correspondent and retired professional skateboarder Tony Hawk on the skateboard street course ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games at the Ariake Urban Sports Park. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk tested out the new Olympic skate park in Tokyo's waterfront, calling the sport's adoption into the Games "surreal."

Hawk, now 53 and a father of four, said the Olympics would further help grow skateboarding's profile and expose the sport to audiences that are new to it or refused to embrace it in the past.

"As a kid that was mostly lambasted for my interest in skateboarding, I never imagined it would be part of the Olympic Games," Hawk wrote below an Instagram video he posted shredding the new bowl at the Tokyo Olympic venue.

Hawk acknowledged that even some in the skateboarding communities had their reservations about the Olympics.

"I've been competing since I was 10 years old. Competition has always been a big part of skateboarding and I think now this is going to expose it to a whole new audience and probably get countries to embrace it that have probably discouraged it in the past," he said.

Olympic medal hopefuls Nyjah Huston from the United States and Yuto Horigome from Japan both responded enthusiastically to Hawk's Instagram post, with Huston saying "Hell ya Tony" and the Tokyo native thanking him in Japanese.

The two are set to compete in the inaugural street skateboarding competition on Sunday, in which Hawk said one of the two would walk away with the sport's first Olympic gold medal.

"I think this [men's street] will be Nyjah Huston or Yuto Horigome top. And for men's park … wow, I don't know. I think this course is going to suit Pedro's style more than anything we've seen in the past, so he's going to be tough to beat."

Hawk made his prediction for the women's events too.

"For women's street, Brazil with Leticia and Rayssa, I believe one of them, if not both of them, will be in medal contention. And Mariah Duran, I'm pretty excited to see her compete. She's really come into her own lately. For women's park I would say Sakura Yosozumi, Lizzie Armanto, Sky Brown and whoever else stays on their board will have a pretty good chance."

More than any other individual skateboarder, Hawk helped usher in the counter-culture activity into the mainstream. As well as being the first to land a 900 (2-1/2 revolution aerial spin), many millennials were first introduced to skateboarding through Hawk's popular Pro Skater video game.

with files from CBC Sports

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