First Olympic skateboarding gold goes to hometown hero Horigome: “I still cannot believe I am in the Olympics right now.”

The reigning world champion started skating in Tokyo at the age of six and moved to Los Angeles in 2016

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Skateboarding - Men's Street - Medal Ceremony - Ariake Urban Sports Park - Tokyo, Japan - July 25, 2021. Yuto Horigome of Japan poses with his gold medal during medal ceremony. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Skateboarding - Men's Street - Medal Ceremony - Ariake Urban Sports Park - Tokyo, Japan - July 25, 2021. Yuto Horigome of Japan poses with his gold medal during medal ceremony. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Japan’s Yuto Horigome entered his name into the history books as he became the first Olympic gold medallist in skateboarding at the sun-soaked Ariake Sports Park on Sunday.

Horigome, 22, who lives in the United States, won his country’s third gold medal at their home Games finished with a score of 37.18 ahead of Brazil’s Kelvin Hoefler (36.15) and the USA’s Jagger Eaton (35.35).

The reigning world champion started skating in Tokyo at the age of six and moved to Los Angeles in 2016 with the sprawling Southern California city being a hotbed for the sport and home to many of the world’s top competitors.

Skateboarding’s first Olympic gold medallist said: “This Olympics is so special for me. Because I was born in Koto City, this is my hometown. And the Olympics is happening in Koto City. I’m so happy to be here.”

“I still cannot believe I am in the Olympics right now. There’s no crowd. So even though I got nervous before skating, I could skate like I always do.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Skateboarding - Men's Street - Final - Ariake Urban Sports Park - Tokyo, Japan - July 25, 2021. Yuto Horigome of Japan in action. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Skateboarding - Men's Street - Final - Ariake Urban Sports Park - Tokyo, Japan - July 25, 2021. Yuto Horigome of Japan in action. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk was in attendance and reflected on his sport’s journey to its Olympic debut here in Tokyo.

“It’s exciting. I know there’s some people saying that it doesn’t belong here but it’s not like the Olympics are inventing competition for us (skateboarders). I’ve been competing since I was 10 years old. Competition has always been a big part of skateboarding and I think now this is going to expose it to a whole new audience and probably get countries to embrace it that have probably discouraged it in the past.”

Hawk said he was surprised it took so long for skateboard to become part of the Olympic family but believes it’s now here to stay.

“Considering that snowboarding has been in the Olympics since 1998, I’m surprised it took this long for them to figure it out. I believe they needed a youthful energy to the Summer Games and it’s overdue. Now with this, surfing and sport climbing, they’re going to have it.”

The skateboarding competition resumes on Monday with the women’s street event.

Skateboarding Day 1 Results:

Men’s street event – Ariake Sports Park

1. Yuto Horigome (JPN)

2. Kelvin Hoefler (BRA)

3. Jagger Eaton (USA)