Valjalo will test limits of street skating at his second Olympics

Published Jul 4, 2024


A JOURNEY that began with an old skateboard at the tender age of 3 became a hobby that has blossomed into a career that will carry the hopes of South Africans when the Paris Olympics kicks off in just under a month.

Brandon Valjalo has qualified for his second Olympic Games in a row, and will represent Team South Africa in skateboarding street genre in Paris later this month. The 25-year-old finished 18th at the Tokyo Olympics and he will be hoping to improve on that finish when he again turns out in the colours of South Africa.

The lack of limits to what can be done with a skateboard, and the freedom of expression with an endless combination of tricks, drew the Johannesburg-born four-time South African champion deeper into the sport as his career progressed.

Skateboarding is still a fairly small sport in South Africa with a lot of room for growth, and Valjalo hopes he will inspire a lot more people to take up the sport with his journey to his second Olympics.

“There was always a skateboard in the garage because my dad and older brother used to skate back in the day, so (it) pretty much started off with me as a 3-year-old kid finding this toy, sitting on it, riding down the driveway and finding ways to enjoy myself with it,” said Valjalo.

“A few years down the line I was going to turn it into one of my hobbies. I was doing a lot of traditional sports in school but skateboarding was the one thing that was always on my mind, it was my escape from reality and it was a place where I could get creative.

“I hope that this qualification will motivate the kids to know that they can chase their dreams. I want to give them the performance I dreamt of in Tokyo.”

Speaking about the lessons from the previous Olympics, Valjalo believes that he now has more control over his performance and in the execution of tricks, as well as a positive mental attitude toward his performance, which will bring out the best in him as he aims for top honours.

“I’m hoping to achieve my best skateboarding day possible. Whatever that result brings to me is exactly what I want it to be. If I go to the Olympic Games and don’t aim for the gold medal, then why would I even be going to the Olympics. That is the goal and the dream, and something I remind myself of every day. If I don’t win the gold medal it will be about becoming a good role model and inspiring the kids, and giving back to the sport that gave me everything,” he said.

“I broke my wrist two days before the contest in Tokyo, that was something that weighed me down. I had to skate with a cast on my hand, which kind of felt like it threw my balance off, but also at the same time it was a mental challenge and I didn’t want to give up and pass up on the opportunity. I was tough on myself and didn’t really enjoy the moment because I was so worried about the performance and doing my best.

“Going into these Games, it will be more about confidence and being happy, and enjoying every moment.”