GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA – A day after claiming his second straight Winter Olympic halfpipe silver medal, teenage snowboarder Ayumu Hirano said Thursday he is considering a bid to compete in skateboarding at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Speaking at a news conference at the Japanese team base in South Korea, Hirano said he hoped to compete on home soil in two years when skateboarding makes its Olympic debut.
“If I’m going to start aiming for (Tokyo 2020), I don’t have much time. I’ll need to train hard,” the 19-year-old said. “I need to organize my thoughts. It’s just a possibility at this point.”
Should Hirano go through with the bid, it could set up another showdown with Shaun White, this time in summer, after the American revealed his own plan to qualify for skateboarding in Tokyo following his halfpipe victory over his Japanese rival Wednesday.
In the thrilling halfpipe final, White, also a multiple X Games skateboarding gold medalist, produced one of the rides of his life at Phoenix Snow Park to pry the gold medal away from Hirano and become the first three-time snowboarding champion in Olympic history.
If White throws his hat into the skateboarding ring, it would be a dream for 2020 organizers and the International Olympic Committee, who are trying to garner the attention of youths through the addition of urban sports.
With his superstar status, White could also help fill the void of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who had received top billing at the Summer Games since 2008 in Beijing before retiring last year.
And White seems like he would be more than happy to try to make up for the loss of Bolt in Tokyo.
“I was watching this Usain Bolt documentary and he was, like, ‘I’ve got three’ and I thought I wanted a third, too,” said White.
“And I wanted to win in this fashion: last run, last guy to drop and put it down — and won. I’m just so proud of myself, which I never say.”
Having the last run Wednesday may have separated White and Hirano
Hirano, silver medalist at the 2014 Sochi Games, had been sitting in first place on 95.25 before White scored 97.75 for his blistering final run.
Despite a stellar performance, Hirano lamented having emerged second-best from the battle with one of the sport’s all-time greats and said he would be aiming to win gold in halfpipe at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
“Part of me can frankly accept the result, but another part is filled with regret. I want to win four years from now,” he said.
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