Sky Brown: The 13-year-old who overcame life-threatening injuries to compete at Tokyo 2020

Skateboard prodigy came back from a horrific accident to claim British national championship title and X Games crown in 2021, before appearing at the Olympic debut of her sport.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Sky Brown is destined for history at Tokyo 2020.

At 13 years and 11 days old, she had become the youngest athlete selected to represent Team GB at the Summer Olympics, breaking a record that stood for 93 years dating back to Margery Hinton (13 years and 43 days old) who swam at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam.

But the road to Tokyo has not been without its challenges for the teen sensation.

Last year she suffered life-threatening injuries that could have derailed her skateboard career and changed her life forever.

Yet by some ‘miracle’, Brown made a full recovery and is now set to debut at the Olympics in country where she was born.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

The rise of Sky Brown

Sky Brown is 13 and already a triple threat.

She skateboards, she surfs, she dances, even winning popular American show ‘Dancing with the Stars: Junior’ – and now she’s an Olympian.

Born to a Japanese mother, Mieko, and British father, Stu, Brown has developed a habit of making history.

When she was just eight, she became the youngest person to compete in the Vans US Open before becoming the first female skater to land a frontside 540 at 11.

Mentored by skating legend Tony Hawk, she would go on to ride Elliot Sloan’s 'mega ramp'.

The youngster has had a promising run up to the Olympic Games, particularly in the 2019-2021 season.

She followed a third-placed finish at the Oi STU Open in Rio de Janeiro with second place at the Dew Tour this year.

But it was a winning skate at the National Championships, just months away fromr Olympic action got underway, that would see her into the Games.

Brown is currently ranked third in the world, a comfortable distance from fourth, and medalling at Tokyo is well within her reach.

Overcoming a life-threatening injury

In the summer of 2020, Sky Brown suffered a harrowing fall that left her hospitalized.

The fall, which she posted clip of on YouTube, shows Brown attempting a jump between ramps.

Bridging the gap became impossible as she came off her skateboard mid-air, falling from a height of around 15 metres.

Ambulances, fire trucks and a helicopter can be seen in the video, detailing the severity of what had happened.

In an Instagram post her father revealed the extent of her injuries: multiple fractures to her skull, a broken left arm – in pieces as she used it to break her fall – broken right fingers and lacerations to her heart and lungs.

“I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness, waiting for the helicopter to take her to the hospital,” he wrote.

“We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive.”

Doctors described the way she was recovering from the traumatic fall as a ‘miracle,’ putting it down to her ‘grit, positivity and attitude.’

“Sky is constantly joking and smiling and it hurts my heart to even imagine for a second a world without Sky; extremely thankful that I don’t have to,” her father continued.

Now, over a year later and representing her father’s homeland of Great Britain, Brown will make her Olympic debut after overcoming the fall that threatened her life and skateboarding career.

Opting for Team GB rather than Japan

With a dual nationality between her British father and Japanese mother, Sky Brown had a big decision to make.

Eligible to represent either of the homelands of her parents, the choice would ultimately rest with her.

And in the end, Team GB would prevail in their efforts to bring on board one of skateboarding’s rising stars.

“The British Skateboarding Association, they told me: ‘No pressure, just have fun and get out there,’” she told BBC.

“I go for it, I try hard, I try my best, but the most important bit is to just have fun and enjoy it.

“That’s why I chose England.”

She’ll be joined by 14-year-old Bombette Martin in representing Team GB in the inaugural Olympic park skateboard event.

Watch Sky Brown skateboarding at Tokyo 2020

If you want to watch park skateboarding's world number three make yet another step on her incredibly recovery from that fall, the women's park competition takes place on Wednesday (4 August).

The preliminaries action starts at 09:00 JST (01:00 in Great Britain), with the final scheduled for 12:30 JST.

You can find out where to watch all the action at the Tokyo Olympic Games by clicking here.

You can read more about Olympic skateboarding, and all other events from the Games, in the official Tokyo 2020 Olympics live blog.


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