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Pitifully brief description of a possible Olympics champion. Remarkably self-motivated young athletes, these skateboarders are.

Yumeka Oda, 12, who competed in the world's premier Street League Skateboarding (SLS) tour, [said] that age does not matter. Riders need excellent skills to compete in a style called "street skateboarding" that involves urban obstacles like handrails and stairs. Oda keeps calm even when flipping her skateboard to perform a trick on a handrail or when jumping over a high staircase.

A first-year junior high school student in Nagoya, central Japan, Oda became interested in the sport after she was attracted to a signboard for a skateboard facility as a second-grader. Instead of training under a strict coach and joining a team like most athletes in Japan do, Oda learned tricks from older boys and girls at the skate park and used her smartphone to search how foreign skaters performed tricks and copied them. Under a free environment, she developed sufficient skills to compete in the SLS World Championship in January.

"There's an athlete that I don't want to lose against. I want to practice more and compete in the Olympics," commented Oda, who finished third in the national skateboarding championships in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast [in May]. The average age of eight people who competed in the street-type finals including Oda was 14. In the park-type finals, 10-year-old Kokona Hiraki from Tomakomai, Hokkaido, claimed victory.


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