Tokyo — Injuries hampered South African skateboarders in Tokyo, but Boipelo Awuah and Brandon Valjalo have learnt from the experience.

It was the morning after the day before and two of Team SA’s skateboarding contingent were headed for the ‘famous’ five Olympic rings structure that stands at the end of the athletes’ village overlooking the river.

One was limping, the other had a cast around his right wrist and forearm. “Injuries are part and parcel of what we do. Other people damage their eyes by looking at a screen too much. We damage our bodies,” says 23-year-old Brandon Valjalo, who competed with a broken wrist in the men’s street competition as skateboarding made its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

With him was Boipelo Awuah, at 15 the youngest member of Team SA at these Olympics. “It’s okay, manageable,” she says. “Okay, it is really sore, more so when I’m standing up or walking.” Awuah fractured her pelvis while practising for the women’s street competition, and was forced to withdraw.

Both Valjalo and Awuah are heading back to South Africa on Tuesday, but have had the time of their lives.

“To say that I was just selected to represent South Africa at the Olympics…

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