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Nyjah Huston’s rise from skateboarding’s child phenom to Olympic superstar, explained

Huston has long been considered skateboarding’s next big thing. Now he gets to put his talent on display at the Olympics.

Olympics - Previews - Day -2 Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The legend of Nyjah Huston began before he turned 10 years old. There were rumors of a kid skating like he was twice his age, destined to be the next “great one” in the sport.

Huston made his debut at the 2004 Volcom Damn Am. A stunned crowd watched as a 10-year-old prepared to make a run in street. It felt more sideshow than reality, but Huston quickly captivated the audience by finishing fourth, making ESPN highlights and starting to build his legend for the rest of the world.

It would take seven years for Huston to win X-Games gold, but that’s part of what made his early career so fun to watch. He grew up before our eyes, getting better with each competition and slowly ascending to become the skater everyone hoped he would. Houston has led the new-guard of skateboarding in the era after the sport’s biggest boom, and he’s done well to maintain its relevancy.

However, as fun as it is to champion the story of the child phenom reaching his potential, it’s irresponsible to gloss over just how difficult Huston’s life was away from the park. His domineering father forced Nyjah to skate from the age of five, pressuring him into the sport like dozens of overbearing sports parents before him. As a child he was expected to spend all his free time skating, and the pursuit of excellence dominated his life. It wasn’t until his parents divorced in 2007 that he was able to be free to make his own choices when it came to skateboarding, and he wanted to keep competing.

That returned love of skating manifested itself in the way Huston competed. Success soon followed. From the time he won his first X-Games medal in 2012 he’s dominated the world of street skating, winning 16 gold medals between the X-Games and World Skate Championship. Huston easily took gold in the 2021 Dew Tour, which served as the U.S. Olympic qualifiers.

There’s significant pressure in the world of skateboarding, with Japan and Brazil being the two primary nations aiming to beat the USA. But, with Nyjah Huston leading the charge in street, it’s difficult to see anyone else taking gold. Now at 26-years-old Huston is entering his skateboarding prime, and considering his already incredible resume, there’s a chance the Tokyo Olympics cements him as one of the greatest of all time, already.

Nyjah Huston’s best skateboarding tricks

Here’s a compilation of some of the best moves of Huston’s recent career.

Nyjah Huston’s early skating highlights

Here’s an early video of Huston skating as a 9-year-old.

How to watch Nyjah Huston in Tokyo

  • Men’s Street Prelims: Saturday, July 24 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Men’s Street Finals: Saturday, July 24 at 11:41 p.m.