Five things to know about Olympic gold medallist skateboarder HORIGOME Yuto

HORIGOME grew up in a Tokyo neighborhood near to where he captured the first-ever Olympic gold medal in skateboarding. Here's five things to know about the Japanese star.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Just a stone's throw from where he grew up in Tokyo, 22-year-old Japanese skateboarder HORIGOME Yuto won the sport's first-ever Olympic gold medal when he captured the men's street event.

How about that for realising a childhood dream?

It was an historic day on many levels at Tokyo 2020, as skateboarding made its debut in the Olympic programme. The day after Horigome captured gold, his Japanese compatriot NISHIYA Momiji won the women's street event, making it a clean skateboarding sweep for team Japan in street.

Here, five things you didn't know about Horigome, who was introduced to skateboarding by his father when he was just six years old.

Horigome back home - and winning gold

Horigome grew up in the Koto ward of Tokyo, just nearby to where he skated to gold at the Olympics.

"It felt significant to return to Koto ward, it meant so much more for me," he said about his native neighborhood after the win.

The influence of his father is something that has driven Horigome throughout his career: "My dad was a skater. And I've been seeing him skate since I was so young, so of course I wanted to do it too," he said in a 2016 interview.

Skating in SoCal, living in L.A.

While Horigome grew up in Tokyo, he moved in 2016 to what many consider skateboarding's hub, Los Angeles, where he now trains up to six hours a day.

"When I was young, I would always dream about what it would be like to live in the United States," he said last year. "At first, it was way harder than I thought it would be. But now I'm surrounded by so many good people. Living here is great. Los Angeles is really where the skateboard scene is at."

Many of the top skaters in the world base themselves in greater Los Angeles, meaning they bump into one another, practice together and see each other often away from competitions.

"Everything skate-related is in Los Angeles. Pro skaters from around the world gather in L.A. to participate not only in competitions but also in street culture," he said. "I have different motivations for skating in Japan and skating in the U.S., so I enjoy every aspect of it, rather than finding it difficult."

Below, with HACHIMURA Rui, the Japanese basketball star.

Finding the fun in skateboard competition

While there is plenty of pressure in any Olympic event, Horigome approaches the skateboarding in the spirit of the sport and many of its athletes: This is something we love to do, so we're going to enjoy it.

"For me, skateboard is about having fun. In a competition, I'm having fun 80 percent and competing for 20 percent," he said in 2019.

Dive into Horigome’s social media and you can see him shredding railings, skating in parking lots, public skate parks, half pipes, down the street... anywhere he can practice and enjoy his craft, he does.

Clean sweep for Japan

While it was American Nyjah Huston, the four-time world champion, who was favoured to win in men’s street in Tokyo, Horigome delivered when it mattered most. Leading up to the Games, he has been the silver medallist at worlds in 2019, then won gold earlier this year in Rome at worlds.

Horigome was joined by Nishiya as an Olympic skateboarding champ some 24 hours later, the 13-year-old shocking the women’s field with her triumph. She was joined by another Japanese skater – 16-year-old NAKAYAMA Funa – on the podium, Nakayama capturing the bronze medal.

Golden video: The medal - up close

While Horigome got plenty of attention after his gold medal-winning effort, he also went viral, with a gorgeous, detailed and up-close look at the gold medals given out at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The video, posted to Horigome's Instagram account, has received over 320,000 views - and counting.

Oh, and how about the dramatic music?