Skateboarder Champion Rinne Akama: The Only Female Player In The World To Succeed At This Time | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Skateboarder Champion Rinne Akama: The Only Female Player In The World To Succeed At This Time

The youngest Japanese No. 1 is the "only female athlete's" weapon of choice

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Photographed by Sono Aida

“I was happy that a Japanese won the gold medal, but I was also disappointed when I thought, ‘I wish I had been here.’ I felt that I would definitely win gold at the next Olympics in Paris.”

Rinne Akama, 13, won the Japan Skateboarding Championships (street women) in December 2021. She is a new heroine one year younger than her age, who beat Nishiya Kabuki (14), who won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last summer at the age of 13, the youngest in Japan’s history.

Her father is a surfer, and she started riding “surf skates,” which are used to practice surfing, when she was in the first grade of elementary school. Now, she practices for three hours every weekday after school in my hometown Sendai, and on weekends she goes to a skate park in Murakami City, Niigata Prefecture, which is three and a half hours away.

Akama’s victory at the Japan Nationals was largely due to her success in the big move “Burley Grind Revert”. She is the only female skater in the world who can do it,” said Morki Ogido, who has been coaching her since she was a child. Akama’s strength lies in the fact that she is able to perform tricks of a higher degree of difficulty than other riders.

She says, “I think the main reason I was able to win is because I am less fearful now than before. If I get injured, it hurts and I might not be able to ski for months, so I am still afraid. But the charm of skateboarding is the sense of togetherness, when I do a difficult trick, I can say “wow” to the other skaters. I feel frustrated when I lose to Kabuki, but we are good friends. At the Japan Nationals, Kabuki said to me, ‘Congratulations, you did it!’”

Akama has competed against older opponents in world tournaments such as Brazil, China, and the United States. Although her smile still has the innocence of a first-year junior high school student, her flashy clothes, earrings, and long brown hair are impressive.


“My hair has been this length since I was four years old, and my hair color has been this way since I can remember. I want my clothes to leave a lasting impression on people, so I try to be flashy. Piercings are not allowed at school, so I take them off… Sometimes I forget to take them off and the teacher secretly tells me that I should take them off just in case. I don’t get comments from my friends about my appearance, but when I won the championship, my nickname became ‘the best in Japan’ (laughs).”

Akama is already thinking about the Paris Olympics two years from now, and is working hard on her training. Brazil’s Jhulia Rayssa Mendes Leal (14), who won the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, is a player of the same generation as her.

“There are many athletes overseas who are as strong as Kabuki, and I need to improve my success rate of tricks. But I am determined to compete in the Paris Olympics. And my goal above that is to become a professional in the United States, my home country. I want to become a popular person who people ask for pictures and autographs on the street.”

Akama, who is just 13 years old, envisions a dream far beyond what adults can imagine.

Akama sometimes misses school because of overseas tours. She reveals her problem: “Now that I am in junior high school, it is hard to catch up with my studies.”
Rinne Akama, skateboarder, Next Generation Star, Vol. 5
Rinne Akama, skateboarder, Next Generation Star Vol. 5

Rinne Akama was born in Miyagi Prefecture in 2009. She won the Japan Skateboarding Championships in December 2021, defeating Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Nishiya Kabuki, and is scheduled to participate in the “X Games” to be held in Japan from April 22 to 24, 2022.

  • Photo by Sono Aida

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