Tokyo Olympics success of Sky Brown tipped to inspire next wave of skateboarders as Shredder Skate School set to thrive
One of the breakout sports of the Olympics was undoubtedly skateboarding, although that probably needs a bit of clarification.
It was a breakout sport to those who may not have had an interest in it in the past, but it certainly was not to the many people that take part around the world.
It was estimated in 2016 – when the sport was added to the Games – that there were 85 million skateboarders worldwide, according to Statista.com. It is just that in the mainstream media, there is seldom any mention of it.
Do not be fooled about the popularity though.
Max Jamieson has been running Shredder Skate School since 2016, having been one of the ‘Tony Hawk’s generation’, skateboarders around the world who were inspired by the computer game.
“There were loads of people who got into it around the time when they started coming out, and I’m considered one of those,” explains Jamieson, who was then 14.
“Me and my friend went away somewhere and he had his Playstation with the new Tony Hawk’s game and we just played it for the whole week.
“Then, when we went home we said, ‘let’s get skateboards’. Because we got skateboards, a couple of our other friends got skateboards and we all started skating together.
“When you first try it, it is about the thrill. You get an adrenaline rush. Landing something new on your skateboard gives you a feeling like nothing else I’ve found in life has given me, that sense of self accomplishment.
“No matter how good you get at skateboarding, that feeling is the same. For a beginner learning something new, you still get that same buzz of self accomplishment as someone that is a professional doing something new.
“You can go anywhere in the world and it is one big family.”
Having been a skateboarder for a number of years, the business developed naturally.
Jamieson, who is 31, had studied photography at university and worked as an apprentice photographer before going travelling. On his return, a friend designed skate parks and got him a job building skate parks which he describes as “a lot cooler than it sounds” and so he worked in retail for a period.
But Jamieson was campaigning for a new skate park in Burwell, and started the coaching to raise money, donating all the funds to the cause.
“It just got so popular that I decided to do it full time,” he says. “I never really envisioned it as a job, it was just a lightbulb moment really.
“It took a couple of years to get it to the point where I could do it full time.”
Even before the Olympics, Jamieson was experiencing huge interest in the business which in some ways was helped by the impact of the pandemic restrictions.
“There was the biggest boom in skateboarding there has ever been in lockdowns because it was a sport you could do socially distanced,” explains Jamieson.
“A lot of parents were just buying kids skateboards as something to do in lockdown.
“When we came out of the first lockdown, I had the biggest surge of interest in the school I have ever seen. It was the first time I’ve had a waiting list.”
That is anticipated to be even greater after the success of the sport in Tokyo.
It will no doubt be helped by Team GB’s 13-year-old Sky Brown winning the bronze medal in the skateboarding park discipline – there were two types of competition in Japan, park and freestyle.
“I’m known as the Tony Hawk’s generation, we’re probably going to have a Sky Brown generation from this,” says Jamieson, who has had an instant increase in interest and emails about coaching.
Many of the competitors in the women’s park competition in Tokyo were in their teens, which is a reflection that Jamieson has seen of more girls taking up the sport.
“One great thing that I’ve noticed about the skate school is how it can get young girls into skateboarding more easily because maybe a young girl, eight or nine, wants to learn to skateboard,” he explains.
“They get a skateboard, go to a skate park and it’s full of older teenage boys, quite an intimidating atmosphere for a young girl that doesn’t know how to skateboard. So they can join the school, a relaxed atmosphere, learn how to skate and then eventually they will probably be able to go to a skate park and be better than those teenage boys.”
Shredder Skate School hosts one-on-one coaching, group sessions and summer clubs, and works in schools, at events and is invited by councils to stage introduction to skateboarding lessons.
They also do scooter lessons, and operate out of Burwell, Cambridge and Cottenham.
And if early signs are anything to go by, then the skills of Shredder Skate School will be in high demand.
“I’ve spoken to people that would maybe have walked past a skate park before, and now they are actually stopping and looking in awe,” added Jamieson, “people that would just never necessarily think about skateboarding.”
The Olympics should always be about inspiring more people to take up sport and moving with the times, and by giving skateboarding a profile, it is doing just that for the next generation.
For more information on Shredder Skate School, visit shredderskateschool.co.uk.