Poppy Olsen sets herself one ‘simple’ task every day – she goes out of her way to scare herself!

As one of the world’s best female skateboarders, Olsen is painfully aware courage is the currency in an adrenaline sport that requires its elite athletes to constantly push themselves over the edge in order to separate themselves from normal folk.

The 23 year old New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS) scholarship athlete leaves for the United Arab Emirates tomorrow to compete in next week’s Paris Olympic qualifiers event in Dubai. It’s one of three she’ll compete in, and Olsen has packed her bags braced to thrill.

“Ninety percent of skateboarding is mental,” said Newcastle-based Olsen, during a visit to NSWIS’s Sydney Olympic Park HQ. “It’s pushing yourself every day . . .  trying to scare yourself every day . .  . that’s what skateboarding is all about.

“You grow up [in skateboarding] getting used to that idea that you need to challenge yourself. But, I’ve found the older you get, you seem to hit the concrete even harder!

“So, I scare myself by trying new stuff. If, say, I want to learn a trick, I’m trying to overcome it in my head to land it. But that’s where your friends help, you feed off their energy [as they pump you up and support you].”

Olsen’s talents aren’t restricted to the skate park, and it’s those pursuits – her art, designing jewellery and even playing the piano – that are helping her to thrive in contests around the world.

“I come from a musical, creative and artistic family, so I have grown up around that,” she said. “My family have lots of different hobbies, and before I started skating I grew up drawing and doing that kind of stuff.

“I just want to keep going with skating and art . . . doing it at the same time,” said Olsen, who’s book The Colourful World of Poppy Olsen was released in 2022.

“I have no doubt art helps me with my skating because it allows for me to go into my own zone.

“And it’s cool because there’s lots of opportunities with art and skating. I have my own online website where I sell prints, art, and jewelry. Further down the line, I think it’d be cool to have my own company.”

One tip Olsen offers her young fans is to not only have dreams, but to summon the courage to follow them.

“Since I was little, I’ve always dreamt big and I found these hobbies I wanted to pursue,” she said. “And now it’s like no dream is too big because I’ve found if you push yourself hard enough, have fun along the way, you can do it.”

And after making her Olympic debut in Tokyo, where she finished in fifth place behind Japan’s gold medallist, Sakura Yosozumi, Olsen revealed there’s one almighty dream she’s constantly scaring herself to make happen – qualifying for Paris.

“The Olympics was awesome,” she enthused “It was amazing. Getting there and experiencing the whole thing was surreal and super. Meeting the other athletes was great because you realised this competition wasn’t just for skating.

“As for the competition, it was next level for all of the skateboarders. It was super cool.”

 Daniel Lane, NSWIS

Photo: Lauren Klemt, NSWIS

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