SKATEBOARDING: For young skateboarders in Australia, their hopes of representing Australia at an Olympic Games is becoming less of a pipe dream and more of a reality.
The Australian Skateboarding Federation (ASF) concluded its first High Performance Olympic Camp on the weekend, which saw 17 of the country's best young skaters shred it up in parks around Melbourne.
Not only were up-and-coming riders treated to lessons from Australian skating legend Renton Millar, but they attended sessions with Sochi Winter Olympians.
Olympic aerial skiing silver medallist David Morris, along with snowboard cross Olympians Belle Brockhoff and Cam Bolton, shared their experiences about what it takes to be a successful athlete, including injury management, nutrition, strength and condition, and how to manage social media.
20-year-old George Richards was "ecstatic" to be one of the lucky skaters invited to be part of the inaugural training camp and relished every opportunity.
"One highlight for me was gaining more of an insight towards the correlation between sports science and skateboarding," Richards said.
"After various physical tests we were already able to see a direct connection between an individual's ability on a skateboard and their body's physical strength and mobility levels.
"It will be interesting to see if training towards a higher level of strength and mobility will in turn increase our performance on the board."
The rider from Newcastle, who has featured in the Australian Bowlriding Championships and Bondi's Bowl-A-Rama for the past few years, said he savored the chance to ride with world renowned skater Renton Millar.
"Renton's ability to drive young talented skateboarders and give them the opportunities to progress and succeed in what they love doing has been outstanding," he said.
"Renton not only has the skill level to help us learn new tricks but also genuinely wants to see a noticeable progression from each of us every session."
The High Performance Director of the ASF, Paul Hogan, was stoked with the feedback from the event.
"It was a fantastic weekend," Hogan said.
"It was very well received by all the skaters and I must say a big thank you to all those who assisted. On the whole I believe we have really opened the eyes of the skateboarding community to the opportunities at Olympic level.
"We invited a number of skaters and they were selected from the ASF rankings. A couple of the top skaters were overseas competing so we invited along some of the emerging and developing skaters.
"Not surprisingly there is an incredible depth of Talent in Australian skateboarding and some of the youngest skaters were absolutely outstanding across the three days.
"Our big challenge now is to develop all those skaters to achieve at the next level and beyond," he said.
Skateboarding will make its Olympic debut alongside sport climbing, karate and surfing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; while softball and baseball also return to the Olympic programme in 2020.
According to Hogan, the inclusion of his sport on the Olympic programme is a dream come true.
"It is extremely exciting for everyone involved in skateboarding and particularly the ASF and all the skaters who can see their dreams appearing in front of their eyes."
"Without the funding from the AOC this camp and future camps would not have been possible. As I mentioned earlier, there is an incredible depth of talent in Australian skateboarding but without resources and funding this talent will go undeveloped."
Richards agrees the future of skateboarding in Australia looks bright.
"The Olympics will only provide a higher level of competition and exposure for skateboarding, increasing the opportunities available for skateboarders at every skill level.
"The chance to bring home an Olympic medal for your country is, I'm sure, a dream of many athletes, but to have the opportunity to possibly be among the firstto take skateboarding into the Olympic Games is for me an extremely humbling and exciting thought."