Japan's teen skateboard queen wary of Olympic jinx - GulfToday

Japan's teen skateboard queen wary of Olympic jinx

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Japanese schoolgirl Misugu Okamoto shows her skateboarding skills during a training.

Whisper it, but tiny Japanese schoolgirl Misugu Okamoto looks to have become the host country's best hope to win skateboarding gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A year from the start of the Games, the bashful 13-year-old screws her nose up at talk of making history when the hipster sport makes its Olympic debut -- for fear of jinxing a sizzling run of form.

"I don't want to get carried away -- that's happened to me before and I'm scared it could happen again so I just try to block it out."

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Okamoto looks to have become the host country's best hope to win skateboarding gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

'I get obsessed'

Okamoto followed that by storming to victory at the X Games qualifier in Idaho to book her first appearance at the extreme sports event, to be held in Minneapolis from August 1-4.

"It didn't really sink in that I'd won," the Aichi-born skater said at a skate park in rural Ama, near Nagoya in central Japan.

"It gave me a little more confidence," added Okamoto, who took up skateboarding in primary school.

'Love the feeling'

But while Japan has strength in depth in women's skateboarding -- with 10-year-old Kokona Hiraki, Mami Tezuka and Kisa Nakamura all making the top 10 in Long Beach along with Yosozumi -- the Olympic hosts have fewer contenders in the men's.

Enter Kensuke Sasaoka, the reigning Asian Games champion.

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Asian Games champion Kensuke Sasaoka shows his  skateboarding skills.

The Japanese number one could be joined at Tokyo 2020 by two-time Olympic snowboarding silver medallist Ayumu Hirano, who underlined his skateboard credentials by scooping the national title earlier this year.

Sasaoka, whose older brother Kent coaches Okamoto, is on course to qualify for the Olympics and has no fears about competing on the biggest stage of all.

"It would be awesome to make the Olympics but I don't want to just take part," said the Japan Open champ.

Agence France-Presse