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These Girls Are Taking Skateboarding to the 2020 Olympics

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Skateboarding
PHOTO | Skateism
Eaze

For those tuning in to the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo next year, they’ll see five new sports on display. One of them is skateboarding.

In an official statement, the committee said the changes were meant “to put even more focus on innovation, flexibility and youth in the development Olympic programme.”

Taking Tokyo’s hip, urban atmosphere in mind, the committee also confirmed the new venues for skateboarding would be “installed in urban settings, marking a historic step in bringing the Games to young people and reflecting the trend of urbanisation of sport.”

“We want to take sport to the youth,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them. Tokyo 2020’s balanced proposal fulfills all of the goals of the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendation that allowed it. Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games.”

While both men and women will be able to compete, the spotlight is firmly on young Japanese women like Aori Nishimura to make a statement on their home country.

 

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Today women’s street final🔥💪 @xgamessydney

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Nishimura is a 17-year-old street skating starlet, racking up 1st place finishes at the Asian Skateboarding Championships Finals in 2016, the X-Games in Minnesota in 2017 and the Street League World Championships in Brazil this year. It’s impossible not to consider her one of the best skaters on the planet and a frontrunner to take home the gold in Tokyo.

Despite her competition wins and undeniable talent, she told Vogue in a recent interview, “I see skateboarding as more of a fun activity than a sport. So if it’s going to be an Olympic sport, I really want to show the world how fun skateboarding is, and how cool the culture of skateboarding is.”

Aside from Nishimura, more and more women have been able to spring to stardom recently in the typically male-centric world of skate culture.

Another example is Lacey Baker, another young rising star ahead of the 2020 games. A wholly atypical personality for skating, the openly queer former foster kid with a buzz cut was one of the stars of Nike’s hit Just Do It campaign commercial alongside star personalities like LeBron James, Serena Williams and Colin Kaepernick.

 

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It’s only a crazy dream until you do it. 🌹 #justdoit

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This comes only eight years after she was a shock choice as a guest at a Thrasher event and lost endorsements because she refused to “femme up her look.”

“The timing was bizarre — I was in Thrasher and winning contests, I did not deserve to get phased out,” she told Vogue.

Women like Nishimura and Baker are paving the way for a new generation of talented female boarders to make their names in the space, following in their innovative footsteps.

Because of them, female skaters like Sky Brown, a 10-year-old skater was named as part of England’s team for the 2020 games. If the team qualifies, Brown will be aged 12 when the Games begin. That would make her Britain’s youngest ever Olympian.

The future is bright for women in skateboarding, and it’s looking like the 2020 games in Tokyo might be the event horizon for a new generation of talent.

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Sports

Kobe Bryant: Tragic End to a Legendary Life

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Kobe Bryant
PHOTO | Noah Graham

Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with nine other people, were killed Sunday in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. He was only 41 years old.

The group of nine people boarded the helicopter at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, departing at 9:06 a.m. PST headed towards a practice session at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California when visibility became an issue due to heavy fog. The helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain, killing all on board instantly and starting a small bush fire. 

Along with Bryant and his daughter, other casualties of the crash included Christina Mauser, Bryant’s girl’s team basketball coach, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton and Ara Zobayan, the helicopter’s pilot.   

First reported by TMZ, with the details later confirmed by other news outlets, the horrific accident takes a global basketball icon, renowned brand builder, successful venture capitalist and investor, philanthropist, filmmaker and media personality away from his wife Vanessa, his three surviving daughters and millions of NBA fans all over the world.

The news of Bryant’s tragic passing immediately sent shock waves around the sporting world, with athletes from all over the planet taking time out to honor Bryant and his legacy. 

NBA superstar LeBron James, a current LA Laker and admirer of Bryant, exited the team airplane visibly shaken after hearing the news, later giving a touching statement to the media. 

“It’s another guy that I looked up to when I was in grade school and high school,” said James. “Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling, and it’s dope.

“Kobe’s a legend. That’s for damn sure.”

James had just passed Bryant for third on the all-time NBA top scorers list the night before in Philadelphia, the city Bryant played in high school before entering the league. Bryant sat in the front row with his daughter Gianna, a talented basketball player in her own right, and his last tweet was a congratulation to King James for his accomplishment. 

Soccer superstars like Leonel Messi, David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo all posted tributes to Bryant to their hundreds of millions of Instagram followers, fans flooded the outside of the Staples Center with Lakers merchandise and flowers to pay tribute and teams around the league took 8 and 24-second violations to start the game in honor of Bryant’s two numbers, 8 and 24.

Perhaps the most tragic part of Bryant’s passing is the clear plan he had for the second chapter of his career after basketball. In the short three and a half years since his retirement from the NBA, Bryant became an advocate for women’s basketball, won an Academy Award for his short film “Dear Basketball,” the best-selling author of “The Mamba Mentality” and a dedicated father and family man all at the same time. 

Rest in peace, Kobe. Gone but never forgotten.   

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Sports

MLB Officially Removes Cannabis From Banned Substances List

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Banned Substances List
PHOTO | Savannah1969

America’s oldest past-time is chock full of unspoken rules, old-school traditions and players from nations all over the globe on some of the richest contracts in all sports. Now, thanks to some official changes to the rules, those baseball players will be able to spend some of that money they’re making on enjoying cannabis carefree. 

In a move that raised many eyebrows, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the players union announced they had reached an agreement to remove cannabis from the sport’s banned substances list. 

“Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct under the Parties’ Joint Treatment Program for Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct, which provides for mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and the possibility of discipline by a Player’s Club or the Commissioner’s Office in response to certain conduct involving natural cannabinoids,” MLB said via an official press release. 

The league will now treat cannabis use the same way they treat alcohol abuse, separating cannabis from some of the harder black market drugs around like cocaine and opioids.

The new rules also dictate that substances like synthetic cannabinoids, cocaine and opioids like fentanyl will now be added to the banned substances list, reflecting the league’s new focus on stamping out opioid abuse. 

On top of the new testing and banned substance policy, the league will require players to take part in newly implemented programs covering “the dangers of opioid pain medications and practical approaches to marijuana” which will reportedly focus on “evidence-based and health-first approaches based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety.”

These new educational programs and the addition of opioids like fentanyl reflect the grim realities in much of Middle America at the moment. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths due to opioids have increased by nearly 10 percent since 2016 and just like any other population, MLB athletes have been directly impacted. 

Tyler Skaggs, a 27-year-old pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angelos Angels, died last July due to an opioid overdose. According to the L.A. Times, his autopsy revealed a mix of fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol leading to his death by choking on his own vomit. 

While Skaggs’ death was ruled accidental after a brief investigation, reports did reveal a Los Angelos Angels employee admitted to providing oxycodone for him, which likely plays a major role in these new rules and educational programs.    

The changes are set to take effect at the start of 2020 spring training.

The move comes as more states ready for legalization in 2020, with states with MLB teams like the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians all make a major push via state legislation or ballot measures.

With popular opinion among U.S. adults clearly on the side of legalization, experts projecting the global legal cannabis market to be worth as much as $66.3 billion by 2025 and the popularity, TV viewership and in-stadium attendance for the sport of baseball dipping to an all-time low, America’s pastime embracing cannabis might be the shot in the arm they need to get some younger viewers back.  

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Sports

PGA Tour Golfer Matt Every Suspended Over Medical Cannabis Use

A statement released on Friday confirms that Matt Every has a 3-month suspension for violating the Tour’s conduct policy on drugs of abuse.

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Matt Every Suspended
PHOTO | Orrios

The PGA has confirmed that professional golfer, Matt Every, has been suspended for 12 weeks, due to a violation of its Conduct Policy on drugs of abuse, effective from Friday, October 19.

Every will be eligible to return January 7 and will miss only three tournaments for which he would have been eligible — the Bermuda Championship, the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico and the RSM Classic at Sea Island.

In a statement sent to GolfChannel.com, Every confirmed he has tested positive for cannabis, but it was a legal prescription — prescribed in Florida, where he resides — to treat his mental health.

“I have been prescribed cannabis for a mental health condition by my physician whom has managed my medical care for 30 years,” Every said. “It has been determined that I am neither an acceptable candidate to use prescription “Z” class drugs nor benzodiazepines.

“Additionally, these classes of drugs can be highly addictive and harmful to the human body and mind. For me, cannabis has proven to be, by far, the safest and most effective treatment.”

Being aware of the Tour’s policy before he violated it, the 35-year-old said he has “no choice but to accept this suspension and move on.”

“I knew what WADA’s [World Anti-Doping Agency] policy was and I violated it,” Every said. “I don’t agree with it for many reasons, mainly for my overall well-being, but I’m excited for what lies ahead in my life and career. Over the last few years I have made massive strides and I know my best is still in front of me. I can’t wait to come back better than ever in January.”

The two-times Tour winner is now the seventh player to be suspended under the Tour’s policy against drugs of abuse that was implemented in 2008. It follows the three-month ban of Robert Garrigus in March of this year.

Despite being medically and recreationally legal in many states, cannabis is still listed as a banned substance under the Tour’s anti-doping policy.

The Tour said it would have no further comment on the suspension.

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