• Kyodo

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Japan’s Sakura Yosozumi, the gold medalist in the women’s Olympic park skateboarding at the Tokyo Games, said Thursday she treats the sport like it is her “boyfriend” to whom she is committed 24 hours a day.

Yosozumi made clear at a news conference in Tokyo, held along with fellow park medalist Kokona Hiraki, just what the sport means to her.

“I like skateboarding so much that I want to do it 24 hours (a day),” the 19-year-old said. “It still feels like a dream. It hasn’t sunk in that I won gold.”

For silver medalist Hiraki, the youngest Japanese to compete in the Summer Olympics at age 12, skateboarding is a “treasure” she values more than anything, she said.

With Japan confirming its place atop the skateboarding world, both Yosozumi and Hiraki, who won their medals a day before on the bowls, copings and hips of Ariake Urban Sports Park, said nerves were no issue during their Olympic debut.

Britain’s Sky Brown, 13, won bronze, making it the first time that all three Olympic medalists in a single women’s event were born in Japan.

Brown was born in Miyazaki Prefecture to a British father and Japanese mother. She started skateboarding and surfing when she was around 3 years of age.

“I’ve been practicing and hanging out with Sky in the United States so I was so happy that we were standing on the podium together,” Yosozumi said, explaining the close camaraderie of the medalists that was displayed with regular hugs, high-fives and helmet taps throughout the competition.

Japan won gold in three of four skateboard events at the Tokyo Games with Yuto Horigome winning men’s street and Momiji Nishiya taking women’s street.

At the Games, Japan was able to assert a near-complete dominance over the women’s events and Horigome was a force in the men’s street.

The United States, the birthplace of the sport developed and popularized by luminaries like Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen, won just two bronze medals. Brazil, where the sport is hugely popular, won three silver medals.

Australian skater Keegan Palmer was the other gold medalist in Tokyo, winning men’s park on Thursday.

Japanese skaters have been starting younger and younger with their parents tending to play a big role in their development. The decision to add the sport to the Olympic program in Tokyo only accelerated this trend and gave the elite of the elite more opportunities to seek out experience on the world stage.

Just a day after making history in their homeland, Yosozumi and Hiraki are focused on progression, already looking to 2024. Hiraki explained her hopes with a uniquely skateboard-style ambition.

“I want to compete in the Paris Olympics and become the world’s coolest skater,” she said.

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