Snowboarding

Double Olympic snowboard medallist Ayumu Hirano is skateboarding towards Tokyo 2020

With Skateboarding making an Olympic debut in two years time, the Japanese snowboarder has chosen a board swap for a sport switch

By Ashlee Tulloch ·

First it was Shaun White. Now two-time Olympic silver medallist Ayumu Hirano is swapping the snowboard for a skateboard in a bid to compete at Tokyo 2020.

Skateboarding is one of five new sports which will debut at the Tokyo Games, and Japan's Hirano wants in on the action.

“Now that skateboarding has become an official event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, I could not just let it go,” Hirano told asahi.com

The halfpipe specialist was denied gold at PyeongChang 2016 when White took victory from his grasp on the final run.

It's the second time the 20-year-old has been pipped for the top spot on the podium, after coming second to Switzerland's Iouri 'i Pod' Podladtchikov at Sochi 2014.

Hirano is on something of a redemption mission after coming so close to Olympic glory twice.

Ayumu Hirano: My PyeongChang Highlights

Japanese Snowboarder, Ayumu Hirano, won Silver in the Men's Halfpipe for th...

Skating into the record books

Hirano is no stranger to making history.

At 15 years old he became Japan's youngest Winter Olympic medallist when he claimed that Sochi 2014 halfpipe silver.

The Japanese star could make history again by being the first athlete from his country to compete in both snowboarding and skateboarding Olympic events.

Despite the fact he's done the two sports since he was 4 years old, he's aware that competing in both comes with risks.

Speaking to Asahi.com, Hirano said “I must brace myself for the possibility that pursuing both sports could end up in the air. I want to keep trying to do something that nobody has ever tried.”

The Shaun White connection

Hirano and White have several things in common.

As well as having the same Tokyo 2020 ambitions, and excelling on the snow from a young age, both pro snowboarders have suffered horrific injuries attempting a cab double cork 1440.

Hirano, who was once nicknamed, ''boy genius,'' almost died attempting the move.

During a competition in the USA in March of 2017, he crashed into the edge of the halfpipe.

A doctor told him that if he landed one centimetre differently, he could have been killed.

After injuring his liver, and ligaments in his left knee, he spent two months in bed, before beginning rehabilitation and a tough road to PyeongChang.

"During his rehabilitation, I often found him watching videos in his room at home and thinking about how he wanted to perform," recalled his Hirano's younger brother Kaishu according to asahi.com, "He never seemed to be down on himself."

The younger Hirano is already a top snowboarder himself at the age of 16, having claimed bronze at the Junior Snowboard Halfpipe World Championships in September.

White's injury was equally bitter. The American icon slammed his face into the lip of a halfpipe during training in New Zealand in October last year.

The three-time Olympic champion needed 62 stitches to close the wounds to his lip, nose, and forehead.

It didn't stop him from coming back in full force at PyeongChang 2018.

Let's fight again!

The pair aren't shy about showing respect for each other on social media.

White has acknowledged how tough coming second must have been for Hirano

''I know how hard it is (to) fall just short of victory and have to push through with the world watching,'' said the American on Instagram.

The 32-year-old has also given Hirano kudos for recovering from his injury and pushing White in PyeongChang.

''He healed, over came his fears of the trick, and then put my feet to the fire at the Olympics. It was the most pressure I've ever felt in my life. Giving respect where it's due... Can't wait to compete with him in the future.'' - Shaun White on instagram.

Hirano's response: ''Let's fight again.''

There's every chance their next battle could be on a skateboard at Tokyo 2020.