When Chris Palmer sat down to watch the Olympic skateboarding final, he felt sick to his stomach.
- Gold Coast skater Keegan Palmer won Olympic gold in the men’s park skateboarding final
- His parents say the Elanora skate bowl has a lot to do with his success
- Skate shops around the Gold Coast are seeing an influx of fresh faces after the Olympics
The father of 18-year-old Keegan was about to witness his son drop in to the history books.
“It’s so hard to watch your son doing something like that … I just wanted to vomit,” he said.
Keegan Palmer’s score of 95.83 won him a gold medal in the men’s park skateboarding — Australia’s first ever in the sport.
Many people have realised that, from humble beginnings, Keegan is going to leave a lasting mark on his local community and on the sport.
Skate park ‘everything’ to champ
Along with his South African wife, Cindy, San Diego-born Mr Palmer said the Olympics had opened up the playing field for a boy who had already won the Australian Bowl Championships at 9 years of age.
“When [skateboarding] was announced in the Olympics, I knew if Keegan put his heart and his mind to it he could do it. The world’s your oyster,” Ms Palmer said.
“He’s always had a real natural ability.”
Speaking from San Diego, where the family is now based, Ms Palmer said they owed much of Keegan’s success to the Elanora skate park on the southern end of the Gold Coast.
“On the Gold Coast we didn’t have that many parks, but they built Elanora … that well and truly prepared Keegan for where he is today,” she said.
“That local park and all of our local mates there … they helped Keegan so much.”
Nights ideal for training
Cindy and Chris Palmer said they petitioned for lights at the park so that Keegan could skate in less hot and humid conditions at night.
The Gold Coast City Council obliged and, in 2016, Keegan started skating at night.
At the time, Councillor Daphne McDonald said the almost $70,000 investment was a result of the Palmers’ calls.
Ms Palmer said the family was “super grateful for the Gold Coast” and is expecting a wave of new talent out of the city.
Skating erupts on coast
Trent Bonham, from Precinct Skate Shop at Mermaid Beach, says the Olympics has breathed a new life into skating.
“We’ve had people come in, in their 30s, who were inspired by seeing it on the TV,” he said.
Mr Bonham said skateboarding had received a bad rap, but he believed the Olympics would turn things around.
He said the sport was misunderstood, and skaters wrongly stereotyped.
“Skateboarding, to us, it’s always been our lives and it’s such a positive thing that we see but sadly to the general public, it’s always been seen as a nuisance, or kids making noise or getting up to [mischief],” he said.
“The more eyes on skateboarding can only do good for it.
Mr Bonham said the COVID-19 pandemic had fuelled interest in the sport and that he suspected the Olympics would add to its growing popularity.
“Skating will bring all these fresh faces to the Olympics and bring in new audiences, just like surfing and BMX-ing as well,” he said.
“Skateboarding has really boomed through [COVID-19], brought a lot of new people that were looking for an individual sport.”