WATCH: Tony Hawk Tests Tokyo Venue Before Skateboarding Debuts For First Time at Olympics

by Suzanne Halliburton

Skateboarding is making its Olympic debut. And nothing can be official until Tony Hawk, aka the “Birdman” gives his gnarly approval.

And, after riding the park course, Tony Hawk pronounced it cool. “I am here for it,” the 53-year-old said as he shared a clip of himself riding the course to his Instagram account and its nearly 7 million followers. Hawk captioned the clip:

“As a kid that was mostly lambasted for my interest in skateboarding, I never imagined it would be part of the Olympic Games. It’s surreal to now be in Tokyo bearing witness to this milestone in the most unprecedented circumstances. I know in the end it will help to grow skateboarding’s profile internationally, exposing our passion to an audience that has never seen it before or simply refused to embrace it.

“A whole new generation will get to experience skateboarding with genuine public support and meaningful opportunity. I predict it will be one of the highlights from all of the Olympic Games coverage this year. And I’m here for it. These are clips from earlier today when Paul Zitzer  and I barged the park course, and then I managed to catch the last 5 minutes of team USA & Japan men’s street practice before heading to the NBC set… more to come.”

Tony Hawk in Tokyo As an Olympic Analyst

Tony Hawk defines skateboarding. He was the sport’s first true superstar. So it makes so much sense to have him on hand in Tokyo for the sport’s Olympic premiere. Hawk is working as a skateboarding analyst for NBC’s Olympic coverage.

As skateboarding fans know, Hawk was the first to land a 900. That’s a nifty trick that has the rider spin 2 1/2 times before landing it. Hawk successfully performed it during the 1999 X Games, although it took him 10 attempts before he was successful.

In Tokyo, there will be two categories of skateboarding for both men and women. They’ll perform in park or street. The competitions are at the Urban Sports Park, which was built specifically for the Tokyo Olympics. Men’s street starts Sunday, with women following, Monday. Park is scheduled near the end of the Olympics. Women go first, Aug. 5, with the men going on Aug. 5.

The Olympics added skateboarding in hopes of attracting more younger viewers. It’s like some of the snowboarding events that now dominate the Winter Olympics. And skateboarding was born about 70 years ago by a bunch of surfers who wanted to bring their passion for waves onto dryland.

But the kids also still love to watch the middle-aged Tony Hawk, who hasn’t competed professionally since 2003. They also know him from his skateboarding video games.

Tony Hawk also shared a photo on Twitter. At 53, while wearing his white shirt and baggy shorts, Hawk still looks very much like he did in 1999, when he literally gave his sport more air.

“Mandatory Japan Air while in Tokyo,” Tony Hawk tweeted. “I don’t make the rules.”