American skateboarder Jagger Eaton rocks with rap and country music on his way to Olympic bronze in sport's debut

Eaton took the bronze on a historic day at Tokyo 2020, as skateboarding made its debut. He spoke exclusively to after his street event: 'There really is nothing like the Olympic Games.'

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Earbuds in, Jagger Eaton was feeling good ahead of the men’s street final in skateboarding.

The American won bronze on Sunday (25 July) at Tokyo 2020, telling after: “This achievement is such a lifelong dream.”

Showcasing the sport’s fun, relaxed side, Eaton said he entered with the right mindset – thanks to some tunes. 

“I haven't really felt that good in a contest in a long time, like just vibing with my music,” he said. “What I was listening to that whole time was a Playboi Carti album, the new one. And then I was also listening like a little bit of country music as well. That's kind of the two genres that I really like to skate to.” 

Eaton used music as his own personal hype tool.

“Most of the time I use headphones to create like hype... create that aggressiveness sometimes that I need,” Eaton explained. “And without the crowd, honestly, it is really hard to get in that mindset of the job that you have in your hands. So really music for me, it just really helps me get in that mindset and keep me aggressive.”

Japan's Horigome Yuto won the gold, followed by Kelvin Hoefler of Brazil, and Eaton, who was third. American Nyjah Huston, favoured for gold, placed seventh.

Behind Huston and U.S. teammate Jake Ilardi, Eaton was the third of three Americans to qualify for Tokyo.

“I did feel like I was the underdog. But again, I mean, a dog can hunt. So that's like what we did. We went there, we knew the job at hand and I was really excited.”

The importance of skateboarding being added to the Olympic programme is something that Eaton highlighted.

“I mean, even the Opening Ceremony for me was a huge deal. It's something I've always wanted to do and to walk away with bronze, being the only U.S. competitor to to medal, I'm just beyond blessed.”

I mean, I didn't really know what the Olympic spirit was like until I showed up. And there really is nothing like the Olympic Games. There's just nothing. And I feel it when I walk through the village. I feel it staying in my place with with the homies. I feel it doing everything. And so I'm just going to cherish that and go eat tonight and hang out and talk with athletes and... Just do it, do the dream, live the dream. - Jagger Eaton to

Skateboarding being added to the Games is something Eaton feels can showcase what the sport is all about.

“We're all having a good time when we skate,” he said. “It is a heavy, competitive atmosphere that we're in, right. We're all trying to go for medals. We're at the Olympic Games for the first time. It's a really pressure filled situation. But at the same time, the one thing that I did and I feel like I was really proud of is [that] I just scraped the joy out of being able to be a part of this and skate with my friends.

“I've known all them for years. And at the end of the day, it was really just about doing your best with your friends and skating and having fun. And that's really what I hope people grab from from skateboarding today.”

See more from our exclusive chat with Eaton transcribed below.

'Skateboarding just makes me happy' - Jagger Eaton How much do you think today helped to validate the sport?

Jagger Eaton: I feel like having all these eyes on skateboarding for the first time and being able to see how much fun we're all having and there like how much fun and how competitive it can all be. And I feel like that's a huge thing that people need to understand, is that skateboarding is so fun. And even through all the countries, all my competitors, Yuto and Kelvyn, we're all still friends. ... it's just a really family vibe. What does this mean to you?

Eaton: Skateboarding just makes me happy. That's the simplest way I can put it is out there, being in that atmosphere, being able to be competitive. I'm just so happy. I'm just fulfilled. And no matter what happened out there, no matter if I would have ended up last or if I would ended up on the podium, I was having a good time. And that's that's really what I feel like I took from today. Your parents are both involved in gymnastics. How did that work for you coming from a sporting family like that into skateboarding?

Eaton: Growing up in a gymnastics family, I didn't get a skateboard until I was four years old and both my brother and I started it. And, yeah, I mean, I just grew up on trampolines and rod floors and being around really competitive, hard-working people. And, you know, that's kind of what my parents did with skateboarding with me. They knew what it took to be great. They knew what it took to compete at this level in gymnastics and they just applied to skateboarding. And that's really why I'm here, is because of their sacrifice of being able to do that for me. And they were working 12-hour days coaching gymnastics while I was skating 12 hours having a blast. So I'll never be able to thank them all for that. Wow. And now that the gymnastics is on, do you watch it? Are you rooting for anyone?

Eaton: Oh, we always love watching gymnastics. That's kind of a whole summer event for us, especially when the Olympics are on. I mean, we always watch gymnastics, but again, I mean, we're always blown away by Simone [Biles].

Team USA's Eaton: Inspired by Michael Jordan You mention Simone there. Is there another athlete that you've tried to emulate - or look up to?

Eaton: You know, the one athlete that I've kind of really have been thinking about a lot while I've been here is Michael Jordan. And that's just because his persistence in the sport was always so inspiring to me. And, you know, I don't know how much people know about my ankle, [it] was broken in Rome [at the street world champs] and I [suffered] two torn ligaments and two fractures and I couldn't walk really normal. It's why I limped off my board after I landed my last trick. And to be here and healthy and being able to walk away with a medal, you know, I just I'm just so stoked.

Olympics: What’s your dream celebration for you right now?

Eaton: The dream celebration is me, my brothers, my little sister, all on a golf course playing 18 holes of golf in Arizona right now. That is by far the dream.