Olympics’ newest sports bringing exposure, excitement to local athletes and businesses

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INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time in history, a few new sports are hitting the Olympic games in Tokyo. It has local athletes and businesses hoping the exposure will trickle down to them.

Skateboarding finished up its street competitions this weekend. Local skate shops are already fielding calls for gear and boards featuring the medal winners. Those shop owners say the games are legitimizing the sport, and motivating parents to let their kids skate.

“The 90s mentality of all skateboarders do drugs, all skateboarders are alcoholics,” said Minus Skate Shop owner Nick Holub, speaking about how some people still view skaters. “[Parents] will just be like you want a skateboard? That makes sense. Instead of, ‘Oh, you want to play that? I’d rather you play football or soccer.’ When skateboarding was announced in the Olympics — things really changed as far as the parents’ attitude. It went from my kid wants a skateboard, so let’s get him the least expensive thing possible, to my son needs the best skateboard, or my daughter needs the best skateboard.”

“I think it will help with the stigma almost,” said Oliver Cahill, who teaches kids to skate at Q Skate Park in Indy. “It really is just a hobby, and for some people an outlet.”

Cahill has students from as young as 4 years old to adults picking up the sport. In the women’s Olympic street skating competition, there were medal winners as young as 13 years old.

“I’m sure them seeing it on a big TV is going to give it another level of inspiration for some kids,” added Cahill.

Sport climbing will also enter the games next week. Those competitions will see athletes traverse difficult climbing walls in record speeds. Like skateboarding, some climbing venues are hoping the games lead to more interest in their business.

“I catch people resting looking at the TV sometimes. Their mouths are open at what is going on. It’s pretty inspiring,” said Scott Bouldein, a managing partner of EPIC Climbing and Fitness. “I don’t think it’s peaked yet. I think it’s just getting started. We expect to see more people come in, but I don’t think we will be overwhelmed.”

Sport climbing fans will have to wait until next week for the sport to officially make an appearance. Skateboarding still has the park competition, and that will also go next week.

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