Olympics-Skateboarding-With friends and rivals, Aussie Palmer powers to gold


Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Skateboarding - Men's Park - Medal Ceremony - Ariake Urban Sports Park - Tokyo, Japan - August 5, 2021. Keegan Palmer of Australia holds his gold medal REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

TOKYO (Reuters) -Australian Keegan Palmer tore up the concrete bowl at the men's park event on Thursday, throwing down what looked like an effortless ride packed with tricks, while Brazil's Pedro Barros grabbed silver for his lightning fast run through the bowl.

Palmer, 18, showed off controlled runs through the Ariake Urban Sports Park, landing lip tricks and 540 turns in the air, netting a high of 94.04 in his very first run that became impossible for others to beat.

Rather than taking it easy, the Aussie then bested himself, showing off a 540 kickflip and throwing down his board afterwards in excitement. Palmer earned the highest score of the contest with 95.83 points for that third and final run, winning high praise for the poised and polished transitions he made between tricks in an unbroken line through the bowl.

"I came out swinging," said Palmer about his stunning first run, explaining how he kept his routine close to his chest going into the competition.

"It's just a huge honour to be on the podium with these guys, no words can describe this," he added, saying that he has known both Barros and American bronze medallist Cory Juneau his "whole life".

Palmer, who has dual citizenship with Australia and the United States, now lives in San Diego, the birthplace of skateboarding culture where he has access to the world's best skating facilities.

In the dramatic finals, Barros barrelled around the bowl, flying over the park's centre piece island to earn his top score of 86.14, securing Brazil's third silver medal in skateboarding at the Olympics. In his second run Barros showed off a front side nose grind but could not reach the sky high standard set by the Australian.

OLYMPIC DEBUT

Skateboarding's debut at the Olympics in Tokyo marks a turning point for an activity that some die-hard fans, including professional skaters, still have difficulty admitting is a competitive sport.

Though Palmer admitted that there were always "haters" in every sport, he still hoped it would inspire more people to take up skateboarding.

"The camaraderie we have is unmatched in any sport, I think it would be crazy if it wasn't in the future Olympic Games," Juneau said.

Brazil's Barros, 26, was even more philosophical, saying skateboarding could teach its participants and fans the importance of patience and friendship.

"With skateboarding you're always falling on the ground, always getting broken, your heart is getting broken, your bones are getting broken," said Barros.

"But you have your people by your side to bring you back up and fix you up," he said.

(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Michael Perry)

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