Hirano’s switch from snow to wheels ends without Tokyo medal
TOKYO (AP) — Ayumu Hirano is no stranger to the Olympics: The multi-talented athlete from Japan has two silver medals from snowboarding at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Games.
So competing on four polyurethane wheels under blazing sun in the skateboarding park at the Tokyo Games was a whole new thing for him.
There was no medal this time, though. Hirano placed 14th in qualifying on Thursday, missing out on the eight-man final won by Keegan Palmer of Australia.
But Hirano said the experience was positive.
“Skateboarding made me stronger,” he said. “I have no regrets.”
The 22-year-old Hirano said he now plans to go back to the cold stuff. The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing are only a few months away.
“I’m going to switch to snowboarding soon,” he said. “This is a beginning, too.”
Hirano was Shaun White’s prime rival in the past two Winter Olympics, in Sochi in 2014 and in Pyeongchang in 2018.
He first expressed interest in making a run at the Olympic debut of skateboarding in 2018 after winning his second straight silver medal in snowboarding. Although he made skateboarding his priority, Hirano made a winning return to competitive snowboarding in February with a win in the men’s halfpipe at the Aspen Snowmass Open in Colorado, a stop on the U.S. Revolution Tour. It was his first snowboard competition since the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
There were 20 available slots in each of the four skateboarding events – men’s and women’s park and street -- in Tokyo and one was reserved for Japan as the host country. Hirano finished 26th in qualifying to best two other Japanese skateboarders for the sole slot and fulfil his wish to become a dual Olympian.
More than 100 athletes have competed in both the Summer and Winter Games, with Lauryn Williams the only one to win medals in two sports since 2000. She won her medals in track and field and bobsled.
In Tokyo, Hirano joined other dual Olympians such as baseball player and speedskater Eddy Alvarez, who was the United States’ male flagbearer in the opening ceremony, and Pita Taufatofua, the “shirtless Tongan” flagbearer who has competed in three straight Olympics.
More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports