Skateboarding prodigy, Boipelo Awuah, 15, tells us about her Olympic experience and ill-timed injury

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Boipelo Awuah, aged 15, at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (2021)
Boipelo Awuah, aged 15, at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (2021)

Heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (2021), Boipelo Awuah caused a social media rumble as she was set to make her Olympic debut at only 15-years-old.

The Grade 10 pupil, from Kimberley, Northern Cape, impressed South Africa, revealing that she picked skateboarding up at the age of five and that her impressive skating tricks were self-taught.

The young skater, who was nicknamed "The Diamond of Kimberley" for her talent, was meant to represent South Africa as the youngest member of the team and the only African skateboarder in the women's street skateboarding competition. 

Unfortunately, on the second day of practice in Tokyo, Awuah fractured her right pelvic bone and had to withdraw from the competition. 

"I wasn't sad because I still went out there and had an amazing experience, but it would have been nice to be able to perform," says Awuah.

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'Everything happened so fast'

Though she couldn't participate, Boipelo was amazed to watch world-renowned skaters do tricks that were "basically impossible" only a few years ago.

"It's different watching it from Youtube. When you're watching it live, it's even more crazy and even more motivating," she said.

As this was Boipelo's first time travelling, her voyaging adventures were a whirlwind. 

After she competed in the Street World Championships in Rome, the young jet-setter headed to Tokyo in what felt like a surreal chain of events.

"Everything happened so fast, it's insane!" said Boipelo. "I travelled to Italy and then three weeks after that, I was headed to Tokyo."

"It was crazy, I went from skating national competitions to skating the world championships out of nowhere, you know, but it was an awesome experience," Boipelo said in an earlier interview.

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'I want to leave that legacy behind'

Though Boipelo is still limited by her injury, she remains passionate about the sport, even jokingly calling the low-impact tricks she's allowed to do in recovery, "boring".

While Boipelo heals for the next month, she looks forward to upcoming national competitions where she will get to compete with international skaters again.

She admits female skateboarding in South Africa and on the continent is still in its infancy and hopes her story would inspire an awakening.

"Some people out there still do not accept that females can be skateboarders," she says.

"I'm definitely going to try my best to be a part of [the next Olympic games]," says Boipelo, who also wants to be an inspiration to her 11-year-old skateboarding sister.

"I just want to say thank you to everyone," says Boipelo, recalling the love and support she received. "It's nice to know that there are people supporting me on my journey."

"I definitely want to leave that legacy behind, and I feel like I've already started paving the way," she said.

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