Thirteen-year-old skateboarding sensation Sky Brown is already worth an estimated £3.5million ($5m) and could be offered up to £2million in new endorsements in 2021 after she became Britain’s youngest Olympic medallist in history.
The teenager showed extraordinary skill to finish third just over a year after fracturing her skull in a training crash that could have killed her, breaking down in tears of joy at the end of the final where she was beaten by two Japanese stars, including 12-year-old rival Kokona Hiraki.
Sky was born in Japan but lives in San Diego with her British father Stuart, a skateboarder and marketing executive originally from Cornwall, and Japanese mother Miko, a housewife. She is understood to have never lived in the UK but her grandparents were watching her compete from the New Forest this morning and has visited the country to compete since she was nine, beating a Team GB selector at a trial in Bath aged just nine.
As well as being the youngest female professional skateboarder in the world, she is the youngest Nike-sponsored athlete on the planet appearing in ads with Serena Williams and Simone Biles and even released her first pop single last Autumn, named Girl, declaring: ‘I can do anything. I’m a girl’.
But while Team GB does not pay any prize money for a medal, British winners will be enriched beyond their wildest dreams with new access to a gold mine of sponsorships, endorsements as well as TV adverts and shows and other cash-rich deals experts suggest are worth £2million per Olympic medal.
The teenager could have represented Britain or Japan but chose the country of her father birth in 2018 when she was ten, and said: ‘The British Skateboarding Association, they told me ‘No pressure, just have fun and get out there’. So that’s why I chose England’. She added: “My parents thought it would be too much pressure, so we weren’t going to do it. But I begged and begged’.
After a breakfast of kimchi and fermented soya beans, she attends a school in Orange County two days a week with the rest of her education done online, allowing her to do up to six hours of surfing and skateboarding each day and travel to events around the globe. She also spends some of the year in Japan, where she was born in 2008, but the family have had to build a skateboard ramp in the family garden.
The teenager is said to be worth $5million already, with a series of endorsements with other big brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Vans, Hurley, and Billabong – and last year she was even unveiled as a Barbie Role Model, with Barbie doll released in her likeness complete with skateboard. But after today’s success her stock is expected to soar further with big businesses now desperate to sign up the sporting prodigy.
Sky already has 1million followers on Instagram and the YouTube channel she shares with her brother Ocean, nine, who is also a professional skateboarder, has had 20million views. but her father said today she would be taking some time off the social media channels he is understood to manage for his talented daughter and her mini-me younger sibling.
Such is her high profile in America, Sky even won US TV talent show ‘Dancing With The Stars: Juniors’ in 2018 and such is her love for surfing, she may choose to take part in that event at Paris 2024. Her father said today: ‘It’ll be up to her by then. She’ll be 16, and it’s hard enough now. But she’s straight back to school and do the things that families do. We’ll take her off social media for a little while.’
Sky Brown is already understood to be a millionaire and is Nike’s youngest ambassador but after her performance at Tokyo 2020 she is going to be an even bigger star
Sky Brown, 13, made history by securing bronze medal in the park skateboarding in Tokyo less than a month after her birthday
Stu Brown raises his arms aloft next to his daughter. Sky’s mother and brother are believed to be back home in California
Sky Brown shows her skateboard to Laureus World Sportsman of the Year British F1 driver Lewis Hamilton after the 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin
Sky even won US TV talent show ‘Dancing With The Stars: Juniors’ in 2018 (pictured right)
Sky with her little brother Ocean – the siblings have a YouTube channel which has had 20million-plus views
Sky’s medal was all the more extraordinary after two falls in the final and a serious injury that saw her shatter he skull last year
Brown celebrates with the Great Britain flag after making history at the Olympic Games
Sky Brown of Great Britain competes in the final of the Women’s Park Skateboarding on day twelve of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Why did San Diego skateboarder Sky Brown choose Team GB despite being born in Japan and never having lived in the UK?
Sky Brown of Team Great Britain goes to hug her father Stuart Brown
Team GB first approached Sky Brown after the IOC revealed skateboarding would become an Olympic sport – when she was just eight – and she says she ‘begged’ to join them over Japan before making the final decision.
Sky, who would lay on her father’s skateboard as a baby, was already viewed as a future star when she was four.
The teenager could have represented Britain or Japan but chose the country of her father birth in 2018, and said: ‘The British Skateboarding Association, they told me ‘No pressure, just have fun and get out there’. So that’s why I chose England’.
She added: “My parents thought it would be too much pressure, so we weren’t going to do it But I begged and begged’.
According to the Telegraph she beat the Team GB selector, Lucy Adams, in a skating competition when she was nine.
She said: ‘Sky was doing all sorts of incredible tricks, even though she was so tiny. It just solidified that this is a kid that is really good’, adding that after that Team GB stepped up their efforts to bring her in for Tokyo 2020.
Sky was then guaranteed to be the team’s number one, where as in Japan there are more international standard skaters. At today’s event Japanese skaters finished first, second and fourth place.
Sky clearly loves her mother’s native Japan, saying when she arrived in the country for the games that she was ‘so happy’ to be there and declared: ‘It feels like home’. She is understood to spend some of her time in Japan each year.
Her father, who is understood to have not lived in the UK for decades, wouldn’t be drawn on the issue.
Sky said that Stuart is from Cornwall, but he disagreed, but preferred not to say where, according to the i newspaper.
But he did say they had British relatives watching his daughter get bronze. PA reported he was referring to his parents in the New Forest.
Sky lives in California and her favourite training spots are Prince Park in Oceanside or Poods in nearby Encinitas, both close to her San Diego home. She also spends some of the year in Japan, where she was born in 2008, but the family had to build a skateboard ramp in the garden.
Today’s amazing bronze came just 14 months after a horror training crash in California where she flew off her skateboard at the top of a high ramp and landed head-first on hard ground, fracturing her skull and breaking her hand and wrist.
She was airlifted to hospital unconscious but made a miracle recovery. Her dad said at the time: ‘Sky’s had the gnarliest fall she’s ever had and is lucky to be alive. When she first came to hospital, everyone was fearful for her life’.
Today Sky became Britain’s youngest Olympic medallist in history – less than a month after her 13th birthday – as she grabbed Tokyo 2020 bronze at the death after a perfect run following two big falls in the final.
Speaking afterwards Sky said: ‘It was a super sick final. All the girls were ripping it, it was insane. I’m so stoked. I can’t believe it, it’s unbelievable. The medal feels unreal, it’s like a dream. I can’t wait to show the medal to my family and friends’.
Today she entered the history books at 13 years and 28 days old, becoming the youngest Briton ever to compete for the nation at an Olympics and then grabbing bronze having left it all on her third and final run, after falling in her first two routines.
She was overwhelmed with relief when nailing her routine third time around, to leap above Japan’s Misugu Okamoto into bronze medal position. Virtually the entire field of competitors surrounded Brown and embraced her as she dissolved into tears. When she emerged from the huddle, it was clear that she was delighted.
She has surpassed the summer British record of Margery Hinton, who was 13 years and 43 days when she competed in swimming at the 1928 Games. British figure skater Cecilia Colledge was 15 when she won figure skating silver in 1936.
Sky revealed after the race: ‘Sakura [Yosozumi, gold medallist] said, ‘you’ve got it Sky, I know you’re going to make it’, and that really made me feel better.
‘I was a little nervous but I’m happy to be here and honestly, I just wanted to land my trick. I didn’t really care what place I got, I wanted to land my trick.
‘I really hope I inspire some girls. I feel like people think I’m too young and I can’t do it but, if you believe in yourself, you can do anything. I believed in myself and I’m here.’
Just a year has passed since Brown, then 11, fractured her skull and broke bones in her arm after an accident during a practice session.
Father and coach Stu was there watching on at the Ariake Urban Sports Park, with Sky sharing the achievements with the rest of her family back home before taking her place on the podium.
Sky added: ‘H said it’s just a contest, if you fall it doesn’t define you. Honestly, that made me feel better. It is just a contest and that’s what it is.
‘I honestly feel that accident made me stronger. That accident was pretty bad. It was a hard time for my parents and a hard time for a lot of people and coming back and getting the bronze is really cool. I’m really happy. It’s really made me stronger.
‘I did speak to my mum and my brother and my mum was crying.
‘I’m so excited to see my brother [Ocean}. He really gets me pumped up when I’m in a contest he goes ‘go Sky’, he screams and I really wish he was here.’
Just over a year ago Sky ‘lucky to be alive’ after fracturing her skull in a horror accident in training in California in June last year. Her father Stu said that doctors feared for her life when she was airlifted to hospital
Sky’s sporting success came less than a month after she turned 13 (pictured)
Sky is a Nike athlete who is believed to be a multi-millionaire at the tender age of 13
Sky’s father Stu lifts his daughter into the air following her medal-winning performance
Father hugs daughter after Sky’s Olympic effort in Japan, the country where she was born 13 years ago
The 13-year-old can’t quite believe it after pulling off the perfect final run with the pressure on
Sky Brown of Team Great Britain competes during the Women’s Skateboarding Park event – the first time it has been held at the Olympics
Brown showed no signs of nerves whatsoever on her Olympics debut on Wednesday
Sky fell twice in the final before her perfect last run (pictured) pushed her up into third place
Brown qualified for the final of the park skateboarding gold with one run to spare
Sky (left today) is the youngest Nike-sponsored athlete on the planet (right) appearing in ads with Serena Williams and Simone Biles
Sky Brown reacts as she is kissed by her mother Miko (pictured) after coming 3rd place in the finals of the World Park Skateboarding Championship in Sao Paulo in 2019
Kimchi, homework to the half-pipe and then to the beach: Sky Brown’s typical day
Sky with her brother Ocean, who is also a professional skateboarder but had to stay at home in California
Sky Brown the youngest female professional skateboarder in the world.
After a breakfast of kimchi and fermented soya beans, she attends a school in Orange County two days a week;
The rest of her education is done online, allowing her to do up to six hours of surfing and skateboarding each day and travel to events around the globe.
She also spends some of the year in Japan, where she was born in 2008, but the family have had to build a skateboard ramp in the family garden.
Sky has not lived in the UK but has visited for Team GB trials and events.
Brown competed at the US Open in 2016 at the age of eight, and first elected to compete for Great Britain in 2018.
An earthquake registering 6.0 on the Richter Scale shuddered Tokyo on Wednesday morning, but it was nothing compared to the tremors felt at the Ariake Urban Park where Sky Brown and her 12-year-old rival Kokona Hiraki proceeded to rip up the Olympic record books.
Aged just 13 years and 28 days, Brown won bronze in the women’s park competition, after a dramatic podium-or-bust final run of the competition in which she landed a move called the kick-flip indy that had been eluding her all day, and proved enough to make her Great Britain’s youngest Olympic medallist.
Incredibly, she was beaten by the even-younger Hiraki, who thus became the youngest Olympic medallist in 85 years, while her team-mate Sakura Yosozuma, who had qualified for the final in fourth place, nailed back-to-back 540s in the opening run of the final, for a score of 60.09 that proved enough for gold.
On the hottest day yet of the baking Tokyo Games, with temperatures tipping 33 celsius amid stifling 90% per cent humidity, Brown exhibited maturity beyond her years, recovering from falls in each of her first two runs of the final to come good when it mattered, a score of 56.47 lifting her into a podium place.
Ranked third with one competitor, the favourite Misugu Okamoto, to go, Brown still faced the prospect of leaving the Games without a medal. But when Okamoto, the reigning world champion and leading qualifier, failed to go clean on her final run, the Briton’s ascent into the Olympic history books was confirmed.
Brown’s dad Stu, who was born in Britain and whose parents live in the New Forest, admitted he may be powerless to prevent his daughter’s bid to medal in another Olympic Sport.
‘It’ll be up to her by then,’ he said. ‘She’ll be 16, and it’s hard enough now. But she’s straight back to school and do the things that families do. We’ll take her off social media for a little while.’
At that stage, her medal seemed in grave jeopardy. Still to go on her last routine was Okamoto – the world No 1, who beat her to the world title in Sao Paulo.
But Okamoto fell and was devastated as she lay on the track. Her opponents shouldered her from the track. Brown, the subject of intense attention across the globe before this competition, had taken bronze.
After Okamoto nailed the heats, it seemed like she was the big danger. But Sakura Yosozumi was the one who staked a huge claim, with her first score of 60.09 – which was always going to take some beating.
Sky made a full recovery, despite breaking her hand and wrist and injuring her skull in this horror crash
Sky and Ocean also surf every day at their local beach in San Diego and she may do surfing at Parish 2024, when she is 16
In 2019, Brown finished third at the World Skateboarding Championship, and the following year she effectively secured her Olympic qualification by picking up a bronze medal at the Park World Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil (pictured). Today she made history in Tokyo
Sky’s bronze came 13 months after a training crash that almost killed her
Brown flew off her skateboard at the top of a high ramp and landed head-first on hard ground
In June last year Sky Brown was ‘lucky to be alive’ after fracturing her skull in a horror accident in training.
Brown flew off her skateboard at the top of a high ramp and landed head-first on hard ground.
She was airlifted to hospital and was unresponsive on arrival but is now expected to make a full recovery, despite breaking her hand and wrist and injuring her skull.
‘She landed head-first off a ramp on her hand. When she first came to hospital, everyone was fearful for her life.
‘Sky remains positive and strong, the whole medical team is shocked to see her positivity.’
Brown posted footage of her fall on her Instagram page and YouTube, in a video which also included shots of her being carried to the helicopter and the sound of her heartbeat flatlining in hospital.
Speaking from her hospital bed, sporting a black eye and a cast on her left arm, she said: ‘I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do.
‘But this was my worst fall. I just want everyone to know that it’s OK, don’t worry, I’m OK. I’m just going to get back up and push even harder.’
Brown immediately realised what the Japanese had achieved and ran to embrace her even before the score flashed up. The two are clearly close and spent some of the final together watching others compete. It is a different kind of competitiveness in this sport.
Twice, Brown fell as she attempted to match Yosozumi, But each time she could not complete the course. Her first run still managed to put her into third place but she was out of the medals a she went down for the third and last time
She succeeded, despite the blistering heat here. It is the hottest day of the Tokyo Olympics with temperature at the Ariake Urban Sports Park of 33 celcius, with a 90 per cent humidity.
Her routine included her signature ‘frontside 540’ which entails one and a half spins. Her ability to repeatedly lean while she span – ‘corking it out’ as it is known in the sport – also put her well ahead of the field.
Brown is also the youngest Olympic medallist of any nationality since Inge Sorensen of Denmark, who was 12 years 24 days when she won bronze in the 200m breaststroke in 1936.
Brown’s achievement is all the more remarkable for the fractured skull and broken bones she suffered during an horrific fall in training last year.
‘That accident was pretty bad,’ Brown admitted. ‘It was a hard time for my parents and a hard time for a lot of people and coming back and getting the bronze is really cool. I’m really happy. It’s really made me stronger.’
In 2019, Brown finished third at the World Skateboarding Championship, and the following year she effectively secured her Olympic qualification by picking up a bronze medal at the Park World Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Last month, she had warmed up for the Games by winning gold in the prestigious X Games, although neither of her key Olympic challengers, Okamoto and Hiraki, were present.
Hiraki was first up of the major contenders in qualifying, with her best score over three runs, 52.46, comfortably surpassed by Brown. But Okamoto, the 15-year-old defending world champion, laid down her mark with a leading 58.51.
Ultimately it was Yosozumi who emerged to take gold, with Brown expressing her delight at bronze, and her eagerness to go home to see her younger brother Ocean, and head for the surf, presumably to hone her skills ahead of a potentially audacious bid to qualify for a second sport in Paris in three years’ time.
‘I really hope so, I’m really going to try surfing,’ she added. ‘I’m going to go surf a lot after here. I’m excited to see my brother again, and I’m going to go and party with my friends.’
Brown finished behind Japanese duo Sakura Yosozumi (C) and Kokona Hiraki (L) on Wednesday
Team GB’s teenage star hugs France’s Madeleine Larcheron during her heat on Wednesday