By Takehiko Suzuki and Ryohei Moriya / Yomiuri Shimbun PhotographersAmong other new sports, surfing, skateboarding and karate will feature in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Here, Yomiuri Shimbun photographers take a closer look at athletes in these “newcomer” sports from unique angles.
Adjusting to Japan
Mahina Maeda, born and raised in Hawaii, one of the homes of surfing, won the 2013 World Junior Surfing Championship and was designated as a special athlete this year by the Nippon Surfing Association, to enroll in its athlete enhancement program.
Used to Hawaii’s big waves, the 21-year-old said it is difficult for her to ride waves in Japan, as she feels they are not as powerful as those in Hawaii. Expectations are mounting to see her overcome the difference and demonstrate her skills at the Games.
Skateboarding from the ground
Kyonosuke Yamashita, a third-year junior high school student, has demonstrated outstanding skills as a top skateboarder. He won third place in the Japan Skateboarding Championship’s “street” competition last year and has become a brilliant figure in the sport.
He is especially good at a technique of rolling the board by maneuvering it with his foot. “We can compete while enjoying skateboarding by freely combining special tricks and routines. That’s the appeal of the sport,” Yamashita said.
Street and park competitions will both be held in the Games. In street skateboarding, skateboarders compete on a course featuring such street structures as stairs and handrails. In park skateboarding, athletes compete with techniques such as mid-air jumps on a concave course.
Miho Miyahara, a Teikyo University employee, is expected to join the national team in the karate kumite light-weight category. Miyahara won the gold medal at the World Karate Championship in November 2018. “I like to attack, attack and beat my opponents overwhelmingly,” she said.