Ambitious shop owner plots Jamaica’s skateboard Olympic qualification

November 05, 2016
A boy shows off his skills at a skateboard competition. in Bull Bay, St. Thomas. Contributed

Skateboarding has had quite an image makeover since its days of being viewed as the favourite pastime of rebellious teenage delinquents.

So much have things changed that the sport has been included among the list of those to be contested at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Jamaicans have never been conformists, making their way into such events as bobsledding, a typical winter sport, contested by men from tropical climes.

Now, one man, Steve Douglas, who recently opened a skateboarding shop at 98 Molynes Road in Kingston, believes that Jamaica has the potential to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 and he wants to make it happen.

Douglas, a self-described marketing consultant, spoke about the optimistic response to the shop which carries a wide range of top of the line skateboards and skateboarding equipment, with brands such as Santa Cruz and Flip among his itinerary.

"Skateboarding is a billion dollar industry internationally and Jamaica has the talent to be recognised," Douglas told The Gleaner yesterday.

"I believe Jamaicans are so talented but we lack the opportunity so why not get rid of this 'Third World' status and bring the first skateboard shop in Jamaica. The youth in Jamaica is very talented and once they get the opportunity to shine they will shine," he added.

Douglas believes reigniting interest in the sport could have a ripple effect locally and believes once the sport grows in popularity a skateboard park would be the next natural development.

He wants to see skateboarding become part of a school sports curriculum, something which he believes would give youngsters options.

"Recreation seems to be important when you're growing up as a child. Some might not love football or track and so if they start they will stop, but one thing I notice about skateboard it makes you want to get it right and it makes you fit. If you don't have a six pack you can't skateboard so it keeps you in shape," he said.

"This might even lead up to the Government to fixing up these roads and help the youths ride on the road," Douglas added.

He added that he now wants to form a local skateboarding association with a view to qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in mind.

"We are in the process of forming the association. We are really going to step into the Olympics team together. We want to get the approval from the Jamaica Olympic Association and if we get that we would do it immediately but if not we would still form it," he said.

A part of Douglas's plans include helping others improve their craft, and he also offers skateboarding lessons on Saturdays and Sundays. It's in high demand though, he doesn't have any openings until October, he says.

"I think the Jamaica skateboarding team is really going to make a difference. That is our mission," he said.

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