March 14 (Reuters) - A 10-year-old girl could become Britain’s youngest Olympian after being selected on Thursday in a team of five skateboarders who will receive UK Sport funding to help them qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
If she qualifies, Sky Brown will be 12 years and 12 days old when the Games begin in July 2020, eclipsing the record set by swimmer Margery Hinton who was 13 years and 43 days old when she competed at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.
Brown and four others — Alex Decunha, Sam Beckett, Alex Hallford and Jordan Thackeray — were chosen by Skateboard GB to benefit from UK Sport’s Aspiration Fund that is aimed at helping them attend qualifying events in the lead up to the Games.
Skateboarding at the Tokyo Games will have a total of four medal events for 40 men and 40 women in two categories: park - a hollowed-out course featuring a series of curves; and street - a straight course featuring stairs, handrails and curbs.
“I just want to get out there, have fun and I don’t really know who I’m competing with or any of that stuff,” Japan-born Brown told the BBC before the team was announced.
“I feel like it doesn’t matter how old you are. I’m tiny and I’m going to be in this huge competition. You can do anything, no matter what age you are.
“Sometimes I just want to beat myself and I want to do what boys do. Why do boys get to have all the fun? I think girls can do whatever boys can do.”
To be eligible to participate in Tokyo 2020, a skateboarder must be ranked in the top 20 in the world in their discipline based on points scored in qualification tournaments.
The qualification period has been divided into two seasons which will end on May 31, 2020. Qualifying events include world championships, tour events, five star events, continental championships and national championships.
Five sports, including baseball, skateboarding and surfing, will feature in Tokyo as part of the International Olympic Committee’s revamp of the Games programme to attract younger audiences.
Lucy Adams, Skateboard England & Skateboard GB Chair and professional skateboarder, said: “Skateboarding’s appeal is in its youth and diversity and its ability to engage with those who turn away from more traditional sports.
“The funding will help us realise and build the dreams of these five skateboarders, whilst helping to inspire the next generation,” she added in the statement announcing the team.
Other British skateboarders will still be able to qualify through Skateboard GB, but will need to fund their own costs, unless additional sponsorship can be found.
James Hope-Gill, Chief Executive of Skateboard GB said: “With just eighteen months until the first Olympic skateboarding event, we’re thrilled to announce the five skateboarders who we can now support on their journey to qualifying for Tokyo 2020...
“With this squad of talented skateboarders we are confident that Team GB will qualify for the Olympic Games in 2020.” (Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)