Tokyo Olympics: Meet Japan’s skateboarder Momiji Nishiya, the 13-year-old gold medalist

  • The first-ever Olympic gold in women’s skateboarding has gone to the host city’s Momiji Nishiya
  • Nishiya went from being one of the youngest Olympians at the Games to one of the youngest gold medalists
Phila Siu |

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The skateboard sensation clinched the gold medal in the women's skateboarding street finals at Ariake Urban Sports Park. Photo: Kyodo

A 13-year-old Japanese skateboarder has become the inspiration of young athletes around the world as she won the inaugural women’s skateboarding gold at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.

Momiji Nishiya, 13, made history on Monday as she came out on the top of the scoring board after competing with athletes much older than she was.

She snatched gold with a score of 15.26, with Brazil’s Leal Rayssa winning silver with a score of 14.64. Funa Nakayama, another Japanese skateboarder aged just 16, took bronze with 14.49.

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“I didn’t think I could win, but everyone around me cheered me on so I’m glad I was able to find my groove,” Nishiya was quoted by the Kyodo news as saying.

Nishiya was up against other athletes who were more experienced than she was, including the US’s Alexis Sablone, 34, the Philippines’ Margielyn Didal, 22, and the Netherlands’ Roos Zwetsloot, 20.

Momiji Nishiya (centre) poses with her street skateboarding gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, alongside Brazil's silver medalist Rayssa Leal (left) and fellow Japanese bronze medalist Funa Nakayama. Photo: Kyodo

Despite the stress, Nishiya, who won second place in the 2021 world championship in Rome, put up her typical smile at the Tokyo Games and took home the prized gold medal.

Nishiya is now one of the youngest ever Olympics medalists. Dimitrios Loundras, a Greek gymnast, won a bronze medal at the 1896 Athens Summer Games, when she was only 10 years old.

In Nishiya’s Instagram account, her first posts were back in 2015 – when she was only seven years old – doing difficult tricks on her skateboard.

In 2019, she posted that she finished at the 11th place in an unidentified contest. “Finished 11th in the semi-final. It was fun but regrettable,” she wrote.

Six years later, she stood at the top of the Olympics medal podium in Japan, her home country.

US skateboarding Olympian Mariah Duran told the Associated Press from Tokyo: “I’m not surprised if there’s probably already 500 girls getting a board today.”

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