Breaking news: When breaking made its debut at the Buenos Aires 2018 YOG

To mark International Dance Day, looks back at the Youth Olympic debut of breaking at Buenos Aires 2018. Here are five things we learned about a sport that will feature on the Olympic programme for the first time at Paris 2024. 

By Sean McAlister

Today (29 April) is International Dance Day, and what better way to celebrate the occasion than with a look back to the time when the sport of breaking made its Youth Olympic debut at Buenos Aires 2018.

Breaking (or breakdancing as it is often known) will feature for the first time on the Summer Olympics programme at Paris 2024, but for 12 young B-Boys and 12 young B-Girls the 2018 YOG was the chance to shine on the world’s biggest stage as breaking made waves in Argentina’s capital.

Here are five things well worth remembering about the 2018 breaking showcase.

Urban culture at its finest

Breaking has made great strides since it first came to life on the streets of New York in the 1970s. However, much of that original style and swagger still exists in the sport today.

At Buenos Aires 2018, two international DJs spun the tunes as the world’s best breaking stars performed at a purpose-built urban park in Puerto Madero in the heart of Buenos Aires.

Argentina, which is more well known for the melancholy tones of tango, was suddenly at the heart of an urban dance revolution - something hometown B-Girl Vale (Iris Gonzales) was acutely aware of.

“Everyone thinks all Argentinians can dance the tango, but I can’t,” she said. “We are showing that Argentinians aren’t just about that... You can see how much the young people here in Buenos Aires love breaking. The atmosphere is incredible.”

At Paris 2024, the venue for the breaking competition will be the iconic Place de la Concorde, which will also host other urban sports including BMX freestyle, skateboarding and 3x3 basketball.

One thing's for sure, the party atmosphere will be something to remember when breaking makes its full debut at the next Olympic Games.

B-Girl Ram sweeps up the silverware

Of all the breaking stars at the Buenos Aires YOG, one arguably shone brighter than the rest. B-Girl Ram (Ramu Kawai) of Japan won every round she competed in during the women’s competition to take gold, before following it up with victory in the mixed competition.

Ram, who forms part of the Floorriorz breaking crew, one of the most famous in the world, saw the potential of breaking to inspire young women across the world to chase their dreams - something many more breaking stars will be doing at Paris 2024.

“I want to say to all the girls that want to practice this sport: ‘Never give up. You have to work hard. Step forward to achieve your dreams,’’’ she said following her gold-winning performances.

A mixed competition brings the excitement to new heights

A highlight of the Buenos Aires breaking competition, which will also be a feature of the Paris 2024 Games, was the mixed competition.

The mixed event saw all the competitors separated into pairs to face each other in two-on-two dance-offs. It brought an extra element of excitement to the Games, as individual skills and national allegiances took second place to collective swagger.

Ram was crowned YOG champion alongside Vietnam’s B-Boy B4, after beating hometown favourite B-Boy Broly from Argentina and Italy’s B-Girl Lexy.

“I am filled with happiness, pride and emotion for how well we defended ourselves with Lexy to get the medal,” Broly said after the final, before expressing just how much the involvement of new sports at the Olympics can mean to the athletes who take part in them.

“Buenos Aires 2018 is a dream come true. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me because I got to know different cultures and I grew a lot as a person.”

Camaraderie comes to the fore

One of the features of the new sports that made their debut at Tokyo 2020 was the feeling of unity the athletes share with one and other. Win or lose, skateboarders and BMX riders alike would cheer for their rivals, congratulate each other's wins and exude a shared positivity that makes these urban sports so unique.

While posturing in breaking is all part of the game, the athletes at the Buenos Aires 2018 YOG taught us that above everything camaraderie is at the heart of the competition.

"There's a bit of smack talk during the battles, but away from competition it's all love," Canada's Emma Misak explained about the culture of togetherness that exists within the breaking community.

"I think that makes breaking unique. We genuinely are like family. I'm so happy right now."

The addition of breaking to the Olympic programme for Paris 2024 fits perfectly with the core Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship.

Breaking is a truly global sport

A quick glance at the individual medal table for breaking at Buenos Aires 2018 shows the Olympic honours were shared between athletes from Japan, Russia, France, Canada and Republic of Korea.

It proves that breaking - a sport born in New York's Bronx district - has now become a truly global phenomenon.

In all, 12 different nations were represented in each of the men's and women's competitions in Buenos Aires, with athletes hailing from Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Africa.

Russia's Sergei “Bumblebee” Chernyshev won the men's competition, beating his French rival Martin Lejeune in a four-round sweep in the final.

In the women's competition, B-Girl Ram of Japan defeated Canada's Emma Misak in the final, again winning every round on her way to victory.

However, one thing that stood out was the fact that only one nation - Japan - had more than a single individual medallist (Shigeyuki “Shigekix” Nakarai won bronze in the men's) as the YOG stars showed that breaking talent is abundant across the globe.


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