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Zion Wright: from 114th to skateboarding’s Olympic debut in one weekend

Zion Wright


Zion Wright came to the final park skateboarding contest in Olympic qualification ranked 114th in the world and 16th among Americans. Three U.S. men qualify for the Tokyo Games, where skateboarding makes its Olympic debut, and two of those spots were already spoken for.

Wright, a 22-year-old from Jupiter, Fla., needed to win the Dew Tour in Des Moines on Sunday to have any chance of earning that third and final spot.

He did.

Wright recorded one of the clutch performances in U.S. Olympic qualifying across all sports this year. He won the Dew Tour, two years after finishing 76th at the event. Also in 2019, Wright was 31st at the world championships -- 10th among Americans and behind such athletes as snowboarder Shaun White.

“I’ve been dealing with a lot of injuries,” Wright said Sunday. “I’ve dealt with so many emotions prior, leading up to this. I’m not saying it’s not hitting me now; it’s been a journey for sure.”

LIST: U.S. athletes qualified for Olympics across all sports

Wright also helped deny 14-year-old Gavin Bottger from becoming the youngest American to compete in the Olympics since 1976, according to Bottger, who also needed to win, finished third, 5.04 points behind Wright and one tenth shy of a second-place Swede.

Wright will be among 20 men’s park skateboarders in the Tokyo Olympics. He’s no surprise. Wright has 400,000 Instagram followers, sponsors including Red Bull and, until March, Nike, and regular appearances at the X Games in the other Olympic discipline, street. His acting credits include two episodes of “Ballers” in 2018, when he met The Rock and Russell Brand.

“All gas, no brakes, as my dad would say,” said Wright, whose dad quit a job delivering newspapers so he could drive his son to an important skate contest years ago.

The Olympic park favorite is American Heimana Reynolds, the world’s top-ranked skateboarder who didn’t compete at Dew Tour, his Olympic spot already mathematically clinched. Cory Juneau, ranked second in the world, also qualified before Dew Tour began.

The U.S. Olympic women’s park team is Bryce Wettstein, Brighton Zeuner and Jordyn Barratt.

British 12-year-old Sky Brown is also mathematically qualified for Olympic women’s park, but British officials haven’t announced their team yet.

The U.S. Olympic qualifiers in street will be known after the world championships in that discipline later this spring. Nyjah Huston is ranked No. 1 in the world.

NBC Olympic researcher Rachel Thompson contributed to this report from Des Moines.

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