Skater O'Neill embracing Olympic team

·2-min read

His official cap might be turned backwards but Olympic skateboarder Shane O'Neill is embracing representing Australia on the world stage for the first time.

O'Neill will compete in the men's street event in Tokyo, with the sport making its Olympic debut.

Hardly a household name in Australia, Melbourne-born O'Neill has been a regular fixture on the global skate scene for over a decade.

He boasts 1.4 million followers on Instagram - the most of any Australian Olympian - and even teamed with Nike to develop a signature shoe.

But O'Neill says it's "cool" to be donning the green and gold and being part of a team.

"It's definitely a new experience wearing a uniform and also being in a competition like this," the 31-year-old said from Tokyo.

"We're competing for our countries and that's new and different because usually it's just, you're doing it for yourself.

"It's different and it's cool to be a part of this."

Japanese skater Yuto Horigome will be the hometown favourite while American Nyjah Huston is ranked world No.1.

A former world champion, currently ranked 14, O'Neill is noted for his technical ability and on his day could push for a medal.

Based in Los Angeles, O'Neill is a member of the SLS "9 Club", meaning he has landed a trick in the Street League competition that judges scored an average of nine or better.

O'Neill said the street course at Ariake Urban Sports Park would allow athletes to showcase their skills and individuality, with skaters judged on tricks during a 45 second run.

"Most definitely - this is a really good course for things like that and the stuff that I do," the father of one said.

"It's quite large as well so I'm looking forward to it.

"Everyone's really prepared for this event so I think they have a good way of showcasing skateboarding and a good way of just pretty much showing everyone what we can do."

O'Neill heads a five-strong Australian team that includes Hayley Wilson in women's street event as well as Poppy Starr Olsen, Keegan Palmer and Kieran Woolley.

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