Skateboarders join Queensland Academy of Sport, following Olympics ‘big change’

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In an Olympic-standard skate park, four athletes have achieved a major milestone for their sport by being the first to join the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS).

Chloe Covell, Haylie Powell, Rome Collyer and Tommy Fynn are at a training camp on the Gold Coast, preparing for an Olympic qualifying event in Rome, Italy next month.

Their recognition by the QAS is a significant moment for the athletes, but represents a broader shift in skateboarding as more eyes turn to the sport and more pathways are created for young skaters.

“It’s so disgusting to see young people getting into it and how much skating has grown,” Chloe says.

She is only 12 years old but Chloé has been skating for half her life.

She says competing in Italy is a chance to start skating in bigger events.

Chloe Covell has skated for half her life.(ABC News: Heidi Sheehan)

It’s a similar story for Haylie and Rome who started skating at a young age and hope to become Olympians.

“I fell in love with skateboarding when I was about three and a half…my dad gave me a skateboard for Christmas,” said 16-year-old Rome.

They are coached by Tommy Fynn, who also competes.

“It’s crazy to juggle but I really enjoy it,” Mr Fynn said.

four skaters in a row get their picture taken in a skate park
Rome Collyer, Chloe Covell, Haylie Powell and Tommy Fynn at Pizzey Park on the Gold Coast.(ABC News: Heidi Sheehan)

Become bigger and better

Mr Fynn said he had seen big changes in the sport since making his Olympic debut in Toyko.

“I see in the skate parks. It’s more crowded. A lot more kids are coming.”

He said new facilities, like the Gold Coast’s Pizzey Park, are also creating opportunities for skaters.

“We never had that when I was younger,” Mr Fynn said.

“It’s like an Olympic standard, an Olympic level.

“It’s going to help the kids try for gold medals one day, a perfect place to practice.”

skating man makes a jump in a concrete skate park
Rome Collyer hopes to qualify for the 2024 Olympics.(ABC News: Heidi Sheehan)

Mr Fynn said the level of support for athletes has also changed.

“There is this support to develop it even bigger and better.”

A growing interest

QAS performance program senior adviser Ian Melvin said the organization was “really motivated” to support skating.

“I think right now, with all the excitement of last year with [Australian] Keegan Palmer’s gold medal in Tokyo, there’s great interest in skateboarding,” he said.

Mr Palmer and Sierra Kerr, who currently represents Australia in surfing, were also QAS inductees.

Mr. Melvin said involvement with QAS meant access to performance support, performance analysis, strength and conditioning and more.

“It’s about having very skilled professionals around them to help them be the best version of themselves that they can be,” he said.

two girls sitting in a skate park
Chloe Covell and Haylie Powell at a training camp on the Gold Coast.(ABC News: Heidi Sheehan)

“The Big Change”

Mr Melvin said the inclusion of action sports in the QAS was also exciting.

“It’s a really cool place for us to be right now, if you look at where the Olympic movement is moving right now, the big change.

“We know some really amazing things are happening in the southeast corner right now in this space.

“We’re really looking forward to seeing where it goes, to going to Paris.”

The Paris Olympics will take place in mid-2024.

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