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Hangzhou Asian Games: A look back at the rise of skateboarding in China

CGTN| Updated: August 8, 2023 L M S


Skateboarding is making its second appearance at the Asian Games later next month in Hangzhou. And having come off its Olympic debut in Tokyo just two years ago, the sport is steadily growing across China. Omar Khan sat down with Tian Jun, a skateboarding pioneer that's dedicated most of his life to skate culture, and who'll be on the panel of judges at the Asian Games. 

TIAN JUN Skateboarding Judge, Olympic Games and Asian Games "He said, 'hey, you're wearing a suit and leather shoes...Can you really skate? It's dangerous. You can't skate.' Then I did a few tricks, and they were like, 'wow this guy is a pro, the pro is here...how do you skate like that? You're awesome!"

It's a moment Tian Jun will probably never forget. In 1999, after graduating and coming to Guangzhou for work, the nearly non-existent subculture of skateboarding that was only slowly gaining traction in China, still resonated with the then 23-year-old. Seven years later, Tian Jun took it upon himself, to open the city's first skate shop.

TIAN JUN Skateboarding Judge, Olympic Games and Asian Games "Back then the business of skateboard shops was really small in China. Only a few of my friends opened skate shops back in their cities, and I envied them a lot. So, in 2006, in this exact spot where we're sitting right now, I immediately rented out and opened this skate shop. As for the name, I thought about it a lot. What to name the shop? But since we're near Heroes Square, I just went with Hero Skate Shop."

Having first picked up a board at the age of 15, Tian Jun has long kept humble about who gets the credit for putting skateboarding on the map in China. In fact, he doesn't need that credit, as he's naturally found success through his dedication to the craft of skateboarding, and that's taken him to the international stage.

OMAR KHAN Guangzhou, Guangdong Province "So, you've been a judge at the Olympics, and now you're going to the Asian Games in Hangzhou. I've got to learn the most basic skateboarding trick from you, the ollie. Take it away."

TIAN JUN Skateboarding Judge, Olympic Games and Asian Games "OK, the ollie, right? So, you just put your front foot at the right position, and your back foot at the tail, and you pop up the tail, so the whole board can pop and move up with your body. Like this."

OMAR KHAN Guangzhou, Guangdong Province "I'm going to listen to you!"

TIAN JUN Skateboarding Judge, Olympic Games and Asian Games "Looks easy yeah? Try it. Pop the tail. Yeah, it's good! Just adjust your balance. Put your balance on top of the board. Yeah, that's better!"

With an Olympic Games under his belt, Tian Jun will once again judge at a major event, but this time, it will be some of Asia's finest skaters showcasing their creativity.

TIAN JUN Skateboarding Judge, Olympic Games and Asian Games "Of course, we hope that athletes from other countries can do well. After all it's a fair stage for competition. It's a stage where all Asian skaters can come to China, and see how our skaters have improved their level. We also hope they can get a feel for China's skateboarding enthusiasm."

Omar Khan, CGTN, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. 

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