He grew up in Tokyo, skating the streets with his brothers from the age of seven. Now, 15 years after he took up the sport, Yuto Horigome is the first Olympic gold medalist in skateboarding – and won in his hometown, no less.
Horigome started life in the outskirts of Tokyo, where his father was a street skateboarder and taught him the tricks of the trade nice and early. He quickly showed his talent, travelling regularly to the US for skateboarding competitions and practice where he beat other skaters much older than he was.
The success continued but his breakout year was in 2018, when Horigome took gold in the Dew Tour and Street League competitions, narrowly missing out on a podium at the famous X Games twice that year. Those results set him up to turn pro the following year when he joined the April Skateboards team, owned by Melbourne-local Shane O’Neill.
Yuto Horigome finally won the X Games at the end of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic prevented him from competing until May of 2021. Despite the break from competition, he still had excellent form, winning the Street Skateboarding World Championships just six weeks before the Olympics was to begin.
Despite what must have been immense pressure to perform at what was not only his home Olympics, but also the first Olympics to include skateboarding, Horigome made it look effortless. He had a couple of falls, sure, but it didn’t phase him in the slightest, and he went on to complete four huge tricks, including a nollie backside 270 (which he had never attempted in competition before).
“I couldn’t miss the fourth trick,” Horigome said after the event.
“So I put everything I believed and worked for into that trick. It felt significant to return to Koto ward, it meant so much more for me.”
In his Olympic gold medal-winning performance, Yuto Horigome beat American Nyjah Huston, who was the strong favourite to claim the inaugural victory. Huston is the highest-paid skater on the planet, though faded during the competition, claiming a lowly 7th place in the end.
With the women Street Skateboarding to be decided today, the athletes will turn their attention to the Park Skateboarding competition set to start on Wednesday. It’s a massive moment for the sport of skateboarding to be included in the Olympics this year, one which the growing legions of fans is sure to be delighted by.
You can check out all of the results and schedules for Olympic Skateboarding below.