By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Like many of its riders, the sport of skateboarding is about to go into orbit.
Especially with the sport about to make its debut at the Tokyo Olympics next year, says pro champion Renton Millar.
Not that it’s short of participants at the moment, he says as he looks at the regular teeming mass of riders at Noble Park Skate Park.
Mr Millar, with City of Greater Dandenong, is staging the King of Concrete tournament at the park’s deep concrete bowls on 19 January.
He has been holding these national-level events across “Australia’s best skate parks” over several years.
King of Concrete is a platform for talented kids to express themselves, as well as creating positive skate-park culture, he says.
“The cool thing about Noble Park is that some of the best in Australia are the local kids,” Mr Millar says.
One of the “rad” locals is 22-year-old Louis Durand, who effortlessly pulls airs for the cameras.
Though one of the favourites to reign as King of Concrete, Mr Durand says he’s focused more on his own performance than his competitors.
“It’s like skating with all your friends, which makes it a bit less nerve-wracking.”
The event is an opportunity to gain wildcards into the pro tournaments. It gives local kids’ opening to exposure and sponsors, Mr Durand says.
“It’s harder in Australia to make it, so most people go overseas.
“We need to get more support in Australia. That’s why this competition opens it up for those who want to go for it.”
For all of Mr Durand’s years of practice, his knees and elbows have worn a huge toll. Injuries happen nearly every session, he says.
“A lot of pain and sweat goes into it.”
Since he was 13, skateboarding has been an escape from his busy thoughts.
“You also meet lots of new people. When you meet someone who skates, you’ve always got that thing in common with them.
“There’s no judging in skating – you don’t have to play by the rules, you can do your own thing.”
King of Concrete is open in six categories – Under 9s, Under 12s, Under 16s, Open Female, Open Male and Masters.
It is on at Noble Park Skate Park on Saturday 19 January, 11am-4pm.
A workshop will also be held on 17 January.
Details: 9793 2155 or http://youth.greaterdandenong.com