The three athletes who won spots on the Olympic podium for the women’s street skateboarding competiton at the Tokyo Olympics Monday had a combined age of 42.
Skateboarder Momiji Nishiya of Japan, 13, became one of the youngest gold medal winners ever at the Olympic Games.
“I welled up in tears because I was beyond happy,” Nishiya told Reuters as she described the moment she realized she had won gold.
Nishiya landed her final three tricks, garnering huge scores and barely beating out Rayssa Leal of Brazil, who won the silver ― and is also 13.
Funa Nakayama of Japan, who snagged the bronze, was the eldest medalist in the event at age 16.
Marjorie Gestring, a diver who won gold at age 13 years and 268 days at the 1936 Berlin Games, is the youngest gold medalist in history, according to The New York Times. Nishiya, approaching her 14th birthday, is a bit older than Gestring was.
Japan is dominating in the brand-new Olympic sport of skateboarding. Yuto Horigome won gold in the men’s street event on Sunday, claiming the first gold medal for the sport in Olympic history, Sports Illustrated reported.
Nakayama and Leal both spoke to Reuters about how they hope their presence at the games will inspire more girls around the world to master their kickflips.
“It’s not right to think, well you have to study, you can’t go skating because skating is for boys,” Leal told Reuters. “I think skateboarding is for everyone.”
Leal showed absolutely no animosity toward Nishiya after the Japanese athlete beat her for the gold. Leal greeted Nishiya with a huge hug shortly after she won.
“I want more rivals, which will make skating more fun,” Nakayama told Reuters.
Team USA’s Alexis Sablone, 34, who placed fourth in the event, agreed with those sentiments.
“For a long time, there were way fewer females doing this,” Sablone told Reuters. “It’s taken until now for enough people to pay attention, to get enough eyes on it, to inspire more girls around the world to start skating.”