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GALLERY: I’m just a skater boy

Pictures by Willem Law; Story by Henri du Plessis

Cape Town - Cheating gravity is an art with many forms. If you just plain want to fight it, you can get into a plane, take a lift up to the 42nd floor, or hop into a hot-air balloon.

Jean-Marc Johannes of Red Bull demonstrates his skill at the Salesian Institute skate park. Picture: Willem Law/Cape ArgusJean-Marc Johannes of Red Bull demonstrates his skill at the Salesian Institute skate park. Picture: Willem Law/Cape ArgusJean-Marc Johannes of Red Bull demonstrates his skill at the Salesian Institute skate park. Picture: Willem Law/Cape ArgusAn unknown rider shows his skill at the Cape Town Civic Centre. Picture: Willem Law/Cape ArgusA skateboarder teeters on the edge of magic in an abandoned building in Cape Town. Picture: Willem Law/Cape ArgusMoses Mo Adams of Red Bull shows off his stuff at an abandoned building in Cape Town. Picture: Willem Law/Cape ArgusA skateboarder in action at the Salesian Institute Skate Aid skate park in De Waterkant. Picture: Willem Law/Cape Argus

But if you want to cheat it, there’s quite a bit of skill involved. Because cheating it means you have to be sneaky and take it by surprise.

One moment you obey, the next, you break away.

Moses “Mo” Adams and Jean Marc Johannes are expert at it. For the largest part of their 23 years of life, they’ve been working at it, one jump, one slide, one flip at a time.

The sound of skateboard wheels on tar, concrete, steel, wood, you name it, ring in their ears when they go to sleep. Breakfast is when they think about the new trick they are going to do that day. Dinner is when they think about how they are going to do it better the next day.

Because for the two young men from Cape Town, skateboarding is not just a sport. It is not just entertainment. It is not even just a job. It is a life.

Adams and Johannes do not care about reaching high speeds. They don’t bother much with protection gear. For them, street skating is the way, always looking out for new ways of using obstacles for their tricks, and for new obstacles to conquer.

The taller you are, the harder you fall, the saying goes. Both Adams and Johannes seem to prove that claim – lightly built and on the smaller side, ideal for their purpose in life.

Adams has represented South Africa at skateboarding championships several times. Johannes is getting his chance at the World Cup in France one of these days.

“I’ve been skating since I was 11 and I am very excited to get the chance to go to France,” Johannes said.

“It is what I have been working for my whole life. I have had my mom and dad’s full support from the beginning and I cannot wait.”

Johannes and Adams are backed by Red Bull, and to skate, for them, is a career, with a full working day of practising, developing new moves and developing variations on existing tricks.

Adams has represented his country three years in a row after starting skateboarding at the age of 9.

Now, he is involved in the making of a film about his life.

“I have also done a Dubai film shoot. This is a real job for me; it is hard work. You are always trying new things, trying to improve, and you are on the go every day for a full day,” he said.

“We think it is going to take about two years to finish the movie, because it is being filmed as I go along. But in-between, we will make clips available on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

“Shooting actually only started four days ago and the film is basically to show my skating, what I am up to every day.”

Neither of the two could be described as your typical self-absorbed sports star. Humble young men from humble origins, their skills have everything to do with tenacity and a strong will.

“I wanted to do this. I love this. And I don’t want to stop,” Adams said, almost thoughtfully, just before dashing off to begin another session.

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