Kicking off on the 24th July, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games promise to be the most revolutionary yet. With members of Team GB are still being announced, more and more stereotypes are already being broken – though the Olympics were formerly none-inclusive, 2020 is the year of new sports and more diverse athletes.
Making its Olympic debut, fans are eager to see which athletes will climb to victory. The physically challenging sport can be broken down into three disciplines, bouldering, lead climbing and speed climbing, but the objective remains the same – reach the top as quickly and as skillfully as possible.
Previously, climbing had been seen as an extreme hobby and not an Olympic worthy sport, but a recent surge in popularity is credited to the sports’ inclusion. The GB team is currently comprised of only one athlete, the first climber ever to compete for Britain at the Games.
What Olympic phrase keeps climber Shauna Coxsey reaching for the next tricky hold? “Faster, higher, stronger”. The 27-year-old is setting the standard for British climbing, as the first in her sport to represent GB at the Olympics, she isn’t letting the pressure weigh her down. In an interview, Shauna described her mindset for the Games;
“What I hope to achieve is to get to the Games feeling fitter, healthier and as psyched as possible.”
Despite suffering a knee injury, she is quoted saying that her legs are stronger than ever. Shauna may be the talented trailblazer that Team GB needs.
The Olympics have celebrated swimming for hundreds of years. However, the sport to this day remains dominated by white athletes. As one of the most popular sports among spectators, it rivals athletics in terms of its number of Olympic events, inclusion amongst swimmers is long overdue.
Current leaders within the sport include America with 246 gold medals, mostly due to such giants as Michael Phelps. With Great Britain trailing behind a mere 7th, the 2020 Games is an opportunity for fresh, more diverse, talent to level the playing field.
Alice Dearing is Team GB’s only black swimmer and second to represent Great Britain in history. In previous interviews, Alice discussed the lack of diversity within the sport, mostly due to the cultural stereotypes within the black community. She is open and honest about her experience, in particular, how she manages her afro hair while in the pool;
“It isn’t easy, I’m not going to pretend it’s easy, trying to manage my hair day to day. But I do do it, I swim nine times a week, I’m on the extreme end of swimming and competing. If I can manage it, everybody with my kind of hair can manage it.”
Alice is dedicated to increasing opportunities for prospective black swimmers. She is using her platform to break down stereotypes that “black people can’t swim”, make the sport more inclusive and inspire young people to learn the essential skill. Throughout her career, Alice has been the victim of racism from white coaches, so is committed to exposing prejudice within the sport.
Similarly to climbing, skateboarding is debuting at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. After the International Olympic Committee supported the proposal in 2016, it was later announced that skateboarding would be included. More than just a sport, skateboarding has an entire cult following, inspiring everything from fashion to video games.
It has been decided that the competition would be split into two disciplines, street and park, to fully test the athlete’s skills to the limits. Complex, dangerous and a hit with fans, skateboarding may be the stand out sport at the next Olympics.
There are few athletes like Sky Brown. The LA local was raised in Japan, and at 11 years old she is the youngest athlete ever to compete for Team GB, beating 13-year-old Margery Hinton in 1928. When asked about her favourite tricks, Sky replied;
“I like to do tricks that boys are doing because I feel like some boys think girls can’t do what boys can do. I want to go to the same height as them and push the boundaries for girls.”
Despite her youth, Sky is at the forefront of rewriting stereotypes. She is actively proving that skateboarding isn’t a male sport, but an opportunity for all genders to test their abilities. With so many talented athletes debuting at the Games, Sky’s determined mindset will set her apart; “you’re going to slam. You’re going to fall. But I like it when I fall, it makes me feel good. It’s part of skateboarding.”