The Olympics tend to be seen as the pinnacle of athletic achievement. Making it to the Games is a feat of itself; getting to represent your country on the podium during the medal ceremony is even more so. Of course, it’s impressive for any athlete to reach that level, but when it comes to this Olympic skateboarder, who has been breaking records and kicking a total a** – at 13 years old – well, it’s just that much more impressive. Meet Momiji Nishiya.
Momiji is from Japan, and she is not your average teenager. But, recently, she clinched the Olympic title in women’s street skateboarding, coming ahead of everyone and taking home the gold. This was the first year that there was an Olympic skateboard competition for women. Momiji is one of the youngest competitors in the Games, close to the youngest athlete to win a gold and the youngest medal winner in Japan.
“I welled up in tears because I was beyond happy,” Momiji said, describing the moment when she realized she had won gold. And one look at her routine, it’s clear this young teen is on a whole other level. She pulls off impressive skateboarding tricks as effortlessly as walking across the park.
Momiji was initially worried, and “stressed” after missing key landings on her first two tricks in the routine. However, she nailed her final three, bringing her total to 4.66 on her fourth landing.
Momiji came out on top of an interestingly young group of competitors. She shared the podium with 13-year-old Brazilian silver medalist Rayssa Lean, another awesome record-breaker, and 16-year-old bronze medalist Funa Nakayama, also from Japan.
Rayssa, who took home silver, is another athlete to watch. She first went viral at 7 years old for skateboarding in a fairy costume. She was praised not only for skating in a tutu but for falling several times trying to land a trick before pulling it off.
Momiji told reporters that she doesn’t feel like age has any factor in her success. “I’m simply very, very delighted,” she said. “I am so happy.”
What’s next for Momiji? First up is yakiniku, Japanese-style grilled meat that her mom promised her after the games. Next, we’re not sure yet, but we know we’ll see her again.