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The Women's Sports Alliance

PRESENTS...

Ayva-Mae Whittenbury - GB’s latest skateboarding starlet


Image courtesy of Garry Jones Photography / Skateboard GB


Is teenage Olympic and World Championship medal-winning skateboarder Sky Brown a ‘once-in-a-generation’ talent? Well, Skateboard GB certainly hope she will have a few talented team-mates capable of joining her on major podiums in the years ahead.


And while they have several reasons to be optimist, one name in particular has excited followers of the sport in the UK, that of Ayva-Mae Whittenbury.


Last year she not only beat rivals more than two decades older than her, but also took Sky’s record as Britain’s youngest-ever National Skateboarding Championship medallist when she claimed silver.


Ayva-Mae was 10 years, seven months and 20 days old at the time, while Sky was 10 years, nine months and seven days of age when she won gold at the 2019 edition.


The Wirral-based street skateboarder says watching the world number one, who is just over three years her senior, “hypes me up a lot,” but Ayva-Mae has her own style and ambitions.


“I love competing,” she says with a smile. “I just want to go to as many competitions as I can and it would be amazing to go to the Olympics one day.”


FALLING FOR SKATEBOARDING

Image courtesy of Garry Jones Photography / Skateboard GB


Ayva-Mae first took to the sport when she was nine after being wowed by other youngsters at a local park and a requested skateboard soon arrived for her birthday.


“I just fell in love with it straightaway,” recalls the primary school student, who made rapid progress.


“When you’re trying to do a new trick and you’re working up to it and then (achieve it), it feels amazing and a big relief you’ve landed it which is really nice.”


Veteran World gold medallist Shane O’Neill of Australia and British champion Alex Decunha are among her idols, but there are a growing number of female skateboarders she is keenly following the progress of too.


15-year-old Olympic silver medallists Rayessa Leal of Brazil and 13-year-old New Zealand skateboarder Chloe Covell, who has claimed world championship and X Games medals over the last two years, are among her favourites.


“I love the way she (Covell) skates and the stuff she’s doing,” Ayva-Mae says of the Kiwi.


“I think female skateboarding is getting more popular now, which I'm really happy about.


“It feels like skateboarding is for everyone now, it’s a place where you don’t have to do a certain type of thing and you can be what you want to be.”


PLACING ON THE PODIUM A ‘SHOCK’



Ayva-Mae had “no expectations” heading into last year’s National Street Championships in west London and medal success came as a “bit of a shock.”


“I was so happy to be second and I was also really happy for all the other girls because it was an amazing competition with everyone really supportive of one another,” she tells the WSA.


“I’d never actually competed in a national competition before, I was just going to try my hardest and I wasn't expecting to walk away with a medal so it felt surreal, but so amazing!”


Just under five months later the now 11-year-old claimed victory in the Virtual National Skateboarding Championships after submitting an impressive 45 second ‘run’ online which was judged to be better than the 40 other leading competitors.


It proved further evidence as to why Skateboard GB added her to their ‘Pipeline Project’ for emerging talents, earlier in the year.


Among the serves offered through the pathway programme are coaching, mentoring and event entry support as well as a route to international level competition.


“The pipeline, I like that a lot,” she says with a beaming smile.


“It's just people who come together who have a really big passion for skateboarding just as much as I do and it’s really nice to have little shred together.


“We also learn that it’s not all about winning and it’s about being yourself as well.”


HIP HOP BEATS AND GAINING PERSPECTIVE


Image courtesy of Garry Jones Photography / Skateboard GB


Ayva-Mae is proud of her achievements and has taken “a few” of her trophies and prizes into her primary school where her friends were “very happy” for her.


She would love to win more, but has “mixed emotions” heading into the 2023 National Street Championship.


The stakeboarder, who enjoys listing to 1980’s American hip hop group ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ to ‘get in the zone’ ahead of competitions, has developed an approach mirrored by many more senior athletes by insisting her focus is not solely on medals.


“I'm very excited and very nervous at the same time,” she admits.


“Sometimes the nerves get so bad then I don’t skate, but if it’s at a level I can control I just tell myself to ‘try your hardest and if it doesn’t go your way, it’s not your day.’


“I'm just excited to see all my friends and I'm hoping to achieve (a higher score) and be better than last year.”


Image courtesy of Garry Jones Photography / Skateboard GB

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