Tony Hawk discusses skateboarding at the 2021 Olympics
For the first time ever, skateboarding will be included as an Olympic sport at the Tokyo Games in 2021. In honor of the sport’s international accolade, the Olympic Games committee released its latest ‘Stronger Together’ campaign video, diving into Tony Hawk’s pioneering skate park course.
“There is no one better to represent the arc of skateboarding than Tony Hawk,” Chris Carroll, director of digital engagement for the International Olympic Committee, told HYPEBEAST. “He is a global ambassador for the development of sport and the evolution of sport. We feel very privileged that he joins forces with us to tell his story.
Between the ups and downs and the cracked sidewalk that Hawk has called his stage for nearly 40 years, the latest Olympics campaign visual shows how recognition of Games skateboarding will skyrocket the sport’s major players to a level international reputation.
“This is actually the genesis of our approach to content, which is called the voice of the athletes, which is about telling stories from an athlete’s perspective. And in this case, Tony represents the entire skateboarding community – their inspiration, their struggle and their resilience as athletes, ”added Carroll.
At the Games, skateboarding will be divided into two categories: park and street. Street skating will involve rails and stairs mimicking those of a cityscape, while the park will feature ramps and pipes similar to those in a traditional skatepark.
“We want to bring sport to young people, and with so many choices that young people have today, you can’t wait for young people to come to you, so we have to reach out to them,” Carroll said. “I think the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics program represents our ongoing urban movement within the Olympics.”
Ahead of the Games start on July 23, HYPEBEAST spoke with Tony Hawk about his first steps in the skatepark, his take on the distinction of skateboarding at the Olympics, and how he plans to use his influence to inspire the next one. generation of skaters. Read what Hawk had to share below and revel in the “It All Starts With A Push” video from the Olympics above.
HYPEBEAST: How did you first enter the world of skating?
Tony Hawk: I started in the late 70s when it was a bit of a fashion and my older brother was skating because he was a surfer, and it was a direct extension of surfing back then. I mostly kicked for transport at that time. A few of my friends were skating too, just as a hobby. And then finally, I got to visit a skate park in San Diego. I think that’s when I knew I wanted to stick with it because I saw things there that fascinated me and things I wanted to emulate. I literally saw people fly and thought I wanted to. I want to fly.
How did you learn to navigate this world, without social media and all the digital tools that exist today, and to turn that passion into a career?
Through competition. It was the only way to measure your abilities back then, as there was obviously no social media. There was no way to compare skaters to each other besides competing. The competitions were the big gathering. I got better as I continued, and it was a lot harder and it forced me to start learning techniques outside of my comfort zone. Finally, I rose through the ranks and that’s how I got my first support and sponsorship. I was very young, so it wasn’t like I was thinking of choosing a career. I was excited to be recognized for my talent and to earn some money. It was only when I left high school that I realized that a career had fallen on me.
Paving the way for future skateboarders, what have you learned along your journey to where you are now?
Well what I’ve learned is that we celebrate individuality and creativity more than anything, sometimes even more than competitive rankings. It is possible to make a living and make skating a legitimate career and still challenge yourself. I think that’s what I’ve learned the most is that no matter how far you go with it, you have to keep challenging yourself because people will forget about you if you don’t increase your last success.
You invented a signature style of skating that allowed you to transcend the growing competition of the sport. How did you manage to adopt your original tricks and capture this attention in the skate parks?
It wasn’t something I actively tried to do, it was just more that I was known to be innovative with tricks. When I was younger and doing these tricks, the older skaters and some of my peers just thought it was robotic and they didn’t give me any credit. They just thought I was more like a circus freak doing these tricks. And I think it wasn’t until later that I started to adopt my style tips.
How do you hope to use your influence to inspire the next generation of skateboarders and communities in general?
I hope to create awareness for skating where it maybe didn’t exist or maybe it wasn’t adopted. That’s really the big picture of what I’m trying to do is show how positive impact skating can have on kids. And often communities, even countries, do not accept skating as legitimate or believe that it has some negative connotations in some way, and they discourage it altogether. And I think that, especially now with the coming of the Olympics, they will see that it is validated, it is positive, it is healthy, it takes discipline and it takes perseverance.
What do you think of the inclusion of skateboarding as an official sport at the Olympics?
I think it’s long overdue, but I think it’s going to be really great to skate on a more global scale. I’m delighted that the local public really understands what it takes to be a pro skateboarder because I think there are a lot of misconceptions about skating whether it’s for the lazy or they see things. people in skate parks and keep trying and failing. And when you see what really is the fruit of that labor, and when you see it highlighted in a place of this scope, I think it’s going to change a lot of perception.
How do you think the Olympic Games distinction could change the sport?
On the one hand, this will open up new opportunities, especially internationally, for installations. And I think that’s probably one of the best results of it all. But I also think it will help at least perhaps the most critical members of society understand that skating can have a totally positive influence on someone’s life. And I think it’s going to attract people who maybe think it’s the key to fame and fortune, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but at the same time, it just gives us more participants.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to embark on a career as a professional skateboarder?
I would say embrace your individuality because you don’t want to just line up on the cool tricks. Skateboarding celebrates individuality and diversity, I think more than almost any other sport. And so the more you stand out as unique, the more likely you are to be successful, if that’s what you choose for a career.
Looking at everything you’ve accomplished so far and what lies ahead, what do you ultimately want to be remembered?
I hope to be someone who has helped raise the profile of skating in a positive way and someone who has helped provide facilities through our foundation The Skatepark Project. We have helped fund over 1,000 skateparks to date, and half of them are already built and open.
Elsewhere, Liverpool-born skater Geoff Rowley reflects on the growing popularity of skating ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.