There are many moments that mould the athletes of today; they are made up of pride, disappointment, triumph, and heartache. GRAZIA speaks to the Australian Olympic team on the moments, the people and the discipline required to finally step onto the field. For the first time in history skate will feature on the Olympics schedule. Hayley Wilson describes the preparation it takes to be one of the first Olympic skateboarders. Here she appears to celebrate the power of sport to build community and change the world.
GRAZIA: When did you realise you could take your sport to a professional level? How old were you?
Hayley Wilson: “It would have to be around age 15. I had been competing my whole life and skated everyday but I was young and wasn’t really thinking about it like that. Something changed when I went to my first X Games. The atmosphere; the pressure of a different competition, everything about it opened my eyes up to a whole different world. It was also after that contest that I began to get more invites to international contests.”
How did you feel when you qualified for the Games in 2021?
HW: “To be honest it hasn’t really kicked in, it’s so surreal! I’m very honoured and proud to representing my country, and be on the first ever skateboarding team for Australia.
It will be going in the history books and it’s so crazy to think about the number of people who started skating when it first got announced. I hope watching skate in the games inspires more people to start; I’m so excited to see what the future holds for skateboarding and where it takes us after it all.”
When you step into a competition what is racing through your mind before you compete?
HW: “There’s always an adrenaline rush before I step up to compete, but I try not to get too wrapped up in my own thoughts or let my nerves get the better of me. Being with all the other skaters, and watching them compete, really inspires me and hypes me up, so I channel that excitement to focus on what I’ve got to do, remember my training and just enjoy the moment.”
In preparation for the Games, tell me three moments: Your proudest. Your most defining. Your lowest.
HW: “My proudest moment in preparing for the games would have to be all the blood sweat and tears I’ve put in. Being able to look back and know I’ve put everything into this, sacrificing so many things over the last few years to be able to give myself the best opportunity I can to podium.
My most defining moment is when I got second at Street League and then backed it up the next week by getting second at X games. It was something I always dreamed of when I was younger, just competing at those high-level contests, and being able to podium at both was really special.
There have for sure been a few lows throughout the last four years but my lowest one would have to be when I had an ankle injury last year and had no idea how I did it. There were days on days of crying, being in so much pain and not knowing when it would get better until I found my physio. He’s incredible and helped me get back to 100 percent if not more.”
What does a week of training look like for you?
HW: “I train five days a week, starting with a 9:30am warm-up with stretching, activation work and basketball then we get into skating for 1.5 hours and in between each session we do recovery. We repeat the same cycle in the afternoon around 3:30pm.
Three days a week we also do gym work after the second session, focusing on strength and activation. On Thursday we have a complete rest day, because it is important to give your body a rest and recover to be ready for the next few days of training, then Sunday is an optional skate day.”
On your hardest days, what drives you to keep going?
HW: “When I’m having a hard day and I’m not sure how to keep going I try to remember why I started skating in the first place. Sometimes it’s hard, because you’re caught in the moment, but having pushed through those hard times and knowing you can is so rewarding. I want to show the younger and older generations, females and males, that it’s okay and normal to have off days and that it’s all part of growing, not just as a skater but as a person.”
“Having bad days makes the good days so much better. Just because today’s bad doesn’t mean tomorrow will be.”
What has been your biggest challenge?
HW: “A big challenge for me, like everyone in sport, is injuries. But injury also comes the mental battle and that’s a big challenge I struggle with almost everyday. The last few years, especially after hitting puberty, I’ve struggle mentally in skating but I’m learning more and more how to work with it. My mental coach Lydia has helped me a lot recently and I’ve started seeing an art theorist; they have both helped me have a different perspective on things, but in a creative way.”
No matter the result, who will you be thanking?
HW: “Of course my close friends, family, coaches, sponsors and most definitely the community that have supported me for the last four years and made everything I’ve done possible. Thank you to the many skaters that inspired me when I was young and still teach me what is possible now.”