You see a lot of serious faces in high-level sport: the focus of the shooter or the archer; the game face of the boxer and the judoka; the agony of the triathlete or rower pushed to their limit. Not so much at breaking. There is plenty of attitude in the battles, but for this new Youth Olympic Games sport, good times are at the forefront of everything.
It is certainly the case for B-Girl Ram (Ramu Kawai, JPN), who became the first gold-medal winner in breaking at the Parque Mujeres Argentinas on Monday, amid scenes that could have been mistaken for a wild block party.“I’m just happy when I’m dancing - it’s a happy thing,” Ram, 17, said after defeating B-Girl Emma (Emma Misak, CAN), 18, in the final. “It gives you joy, when the crowd is feeling the music, and you are feeling the music. There’s nothing better.” Misak agreed. “There’s a bit of smack talk during the battles, but away from competition it’s all love,” she said. “I think that makes breaking unique. We genuinely are like family. I’m so happy right now.” B-Girl Yell (Yeri Kim, KOR) won bronze.
In the B-Boy event, 18-year-old B-Boy Bumblebee (Sergei Chernyshev, RUS) took gold, defeating B-Boy Martin (Martin Lejeune, FRA), 16, in the final. He had earlier battled past B-Boy Shigekix (Nakari Shigeyuki, JPN) in a dramatic semifinal. Despite missing out on a yearned-for victory, the bronze medallist could not stop himself cracking a smile.
“I really, really enjoy myself out there, it is pure enjoyment,” 16-year-old Shigekix said. “My inspiration always comes from the music that we listen to when we battle. I love it. Of course, I have a lot of moves, skills and techniques, but when I’m on stage I’m guided by the music.”
The Japanese dancer incorporated some superb flourishes - including a bit of air guitar - alongside his trademark fast, controlled power moves and sudden freezes. “Breaking has two elements,” he said. “One is sports, and one is arts. We need the stamina of athletes, but we also need to be artists, and express our feelings. It is great to give joy to the people watching, it gives me pleasure. These crowds in Buenos Aires have been fantastic. We shared the vibes. When I do something crazy, they make noise. That makes me feel good, and I do more crazy things. We build each other up. We make a special moment together. I’m very happy to represent Japan. I’m sad not to win, but now I want to see the sport at the Olympics, and try to win gold.”
We shared the vibes B-Boy Shigekix Japan - B-Boy Shigekix Japan
B-Girl Vale (Iris Valeria Gonzalez, ARG), 18, who had been eliminated in the preliminary rounds, summed up the mutual admiration. “There is so much respect between the breakers,” she said. “I think it’s different from other sports, where people might stay with their own teams. We all spend time together, in the Village and in the food halls, lunch and dinner, it is part of our culture.”