Jean-Marc Johannes started skateboarding when he was 10-years-old. That’s when I got my first board. I saw a lot of people doing it while in school and I struggled a lot with sports when I was younger and I discovered skateboarding. It looked like something positive and I wanted to be involved with it. A lot of the kids were doing it and I wanted to give it a try.

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After asking his parents if he could get his board, he looked around the family garage and found an old skateboard which they used when they were younger. I inherited the board and that’s when it sparked the interest for me, by age 11 I knew this was what I loved to do. After a year of skateboarding, I won my first pro contest. Johannes said more than just a knack, it was his passion for it that made him put so much work into it. The Athlon bred skater added that in any sport there were dangerous aspects if one did not follow safety measures.

“I encourage this to all new skateboarders starting. Use the safety pads and helmets when you are starting.”

Skateboarding as a sport at the Olympics was still in its qualification phase and now that the games have been postponed to 2021, Johannes is seeing this as an opportunity to train further. I had made it to the final season of qualifications in the top-ranked athletes for the continent, ahead of the games. So I just needed to be compliant with the Games rules. I was looking forward to the qualification as well. A lot of the contests I have wanted to compete in before only came to life for me towards the end of last year.”

The 28-year-old managed to get himself a wild card as the first Cape Town skateboarder to be part of the Olympic ranking. “It was a big dream come true for me and the road ahead was one which I am still looking forward to. I’m really happy that skateboarding has got me to this level.”

Skateboarding in the country is bigger than it has ever been, according to Johannes. Not just because it is part of the Olympic Games. I feel skateboarding has more of a culture to it and I think that impacts more than sport. As a culture, it impacts music, art, and fashion. So I think it is growing in sport and beyond.

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Johannes said he knew it would continue to grow in the future and become one of the biggest sports in the country. The kids that I have seen are doing it more than other sports. They are not doing it because it is required as an extracurricular activity but because it is an activity they enjoy. That’s where the passion aspect comes in.

While everything is postponed, for now, Johannes intends to continue training. We haven’t been notified as yet if there will be qualification events later this year but I have now adjusted my training to be done indoors. A lot of my training requires me to be fit. You can skate every day but your body needs to last. I’ve been seeing this through with my equipment at home. Johannes still looks forward to representing his country once the COVID-19 pandemic has come to an end. 

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