By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A group of international students on skateboards weren’t too bothered by talk of an Australia-China trade war – or even the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 12 teen boys and girls were more intent on winning berths in China’s Olympic team, as they trained at Noble Park skate bowl on 27 May.
The aspirants are at the forefront of a fledgling sport in China. They are home-schooled and skateboard every day as part of the Shandong Province Skateboard Team.
“I’ve coached a lot of skateboarders,” says their Coburg-based coach and ex-pro Will Stoynes.
“Their passion and progression is nothing like I’ve seen.”
He says to keep a special eye on 13-year-old ‘Nugget’, who he says is sure to compete in the Olympics in 2024.
For the past two years, they’ve travelled to train at Australia’s elite facilities under Australian Skateboarding Federation coaches.
There were “few and far between” skate parks in China that matched Noble Park’s deep skate bowl or The Shed in Cranbourne, Mr Stoynes said.
“They’ve got such a big population and skateboarding is relatively new in terms of competition – so they’re on the catch-up.”
Thanks to ‘corona’, the team’s stay from December 2019 has been extended to September 2020.
“It’s all about skateboarding for them – even the Covid virus isn’t effecting them. Though it was scary when it first came to a head.
“They’re happy to be in Australia. Their families (in China) have been in lockdown but they are all safe and well.”
The team plans to return in China in September. They will then train in Australia before anticipated try-outs for the Chinese OIympic team early in 2021.