Skateboarding's ageless ambassador: Macdonald inspires at Olympic Qualifier Series-Xinhua

Skateboarding's ageless ambassador: Macdonald inspires at Olympic Qualifier Series

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-05-17 20:13:00

by Sportswriter Cao Yibo

SHANGHAI, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Amid young skateboarders, Andy Macdonald stands out at Huangpu Riverside in Shanghai, the venue for the 2024 Olympic Qualifier Series.

Approaching his 51st birthday in two months, Macdonald, an eight-time World Cup Skateboarding competition winner, is the oldest contender in Shanghai. He contrasts sharply with the 32 younger participants born after 2000 among a total of 44 entries in the park event.

Competing with much younger generations, Macdonald shared his philosophy on age: "It's just a number. You don't get old and quit skateboarding; you quit skateboarding and you get old."

"This is what I've been doing since I was 12 years old. I picked up a board at the age of these kids and started competing right away, trying to learn new tricks and progress," Macdonald noted. "I've never stopped doing it; it's for my mental and physical health."

"Whether I was competing or not, I would still be doing it anyway. If I have the opportunity to compete, then why not?" said Macdonald, who last visited Shanghai eight years ago, recalling fond memories of the Pearl Tower, the city's landmark back then.

Macdonald began his professional career in 1994, at a time when skateboarding was far from being an Olympic sport. However, after obtaining a British passport to have the chance to represent the British national team two years ago, Macdonald began seriously considering aiming for Paris.

Primarily competing in vert throughout his career, Macdonald found the Olympic park format to be a relatively new and challenging discipline.

Known for riding halfpipe ramps, which are typically 14 feet high with two feet of vertical at the top-four feet higher than the curved parks-Macdonald excelled. In the two-dimensional halfpipe, Macdonald could always gain speed to create more air time to perform tricks. However, in the park event, he had to calculate how much to come out of the top to go higher; otherwise, he would clip the top.

"And you have to score by the use of the bowl, not just the tricks you do," Macdonald said, remaining positive about the challenges. "I'm learning a new discipline, and I have to think faster."

In fact, Macdonald embraced the challenge as fun. He met 13-year-old Tommy Calvert in San Diego, and despite their age difference, the two became training buddies and teammates on the British team.

As one of the newest Olympic sports, skateboarding raised concerns about the possible dilution of the sport's original street flavor.

In response, Macdonald believed that competition and the spirit of skateboarding could coexist.

"People were afraid that skateboarding would become overly competitive instead of fun. I think the park contest at the last Olympics taught a valuable lesson to all the other sports. The girl (Misugu Okamoto) who got fourth place should have won, and she was devastated. But Bryce Wettstein and Poppy Olsen lifted her up, put her on their shoulders, and shouted, 'We love you, you are still awesome.' And that's the spirit of both the Olympics and skateboarding," Macdonald explained.

"We are competitors, but we are trying to bring out the best in each other. I don't want to win because somebody failed; I want to win because I did the best I could do," Macdonald emphasized the camaraderie among athletes in skateboarding competitions.

Macdonald, impressed by the skills of several skateboarders around 15 years old he saw in a park in Shanghai recently, also believed that the Olympics are helping to grow the sport globally.

"It's amazing to see not only kids but also international interest in skateboarding because of the Olympics. There are more opportunities, and it's more accessible for kids to get involved since the last Olympic cycle, with governments supporting skateboarding," Macdonald said.

In Shanghai, Macdonald eventually finished 30th in the preliminary round, failing to make the top 16 to enter the semifinals. Even though the 50-year-old had predicted his elimination, he was still satisfied with his performance. As he said in a previous interview: "For me, it's just the experience of being there. It would be a cool thing to show the world that skateboarding knows no bounds."