“It was probably one of the best experiences of my life,” NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) skateboarder Ruby Trew says beaming like the autumnal Roman sunshine catching her surroundings as she sits for an interview with Olympics.com.
The 14-year-old Australian is in Ostia, Italy, for WST Rome Park World Championships 2023, and before talk of that, the teenager is recalling her last experience on the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifying stage.
Against the backdrop of imposing Argentine mountains, she had soared to the summit, finishing the contest in second place behind Sky Brown and with her result, rose to number four in the world rankings.
“I didn’t land my first two runs, and we get three runs, so I was super nervous,” Trew remembers.
“I was like, Oh my god, I’ve just got to try and put down my hardest run. I’d never even done It before, the whole thing so I was super nervous. And I ended up changing my run because it was too long in the middle of the comp so, it was even more stressful for me,” she continues. “I was not expecting that [result] at all.”
While Trew might be surprised by her podium finish in San Juan, as she begins talking about her origin story, it’s a result that becomes less surprising by the second.
Placed on a surfboard at six months old by her father Simon Trew, who emigrated from Wales to Australia back in 1999 in search of a better life and better waves, Trew was always destined to be on some kind of board out exploring the world.
But what the family didn’t expect is that it would be the skate kind that would capture her heart first.
“I was like maybe five when I went in the water on like a surfboard. But I only really got into it when I was seven because I just wanted to skate, like all the time,” Trew says with a smile. “I was on a scooter at first, and then my dad got me a skateboard and I tried it and I really liked it.”
While her dad was a bit sceptical at first, he was soon persuaded as to the joys of the sport when he watched his daughter fall in love with it. Her initial fears of being on her board after upgrading from her three-wheel scooter, quickly subsided as she found herself urged to progress by the people around her.
“It’s actually like a community and like a big family that you can just come to skate park and just like everyone hangs out,” Trew says. “It’s your friends. You’re learning ollies and then you see them get their ollie and then you’re like ‘Oh, I want to get mine now’ because you’re growing together.”
“In skating, everyone’s so different, like you can be from the middle of the desert or you can be from the snow and there are skateparks all around the world and [there are] just people from different communities everywhere skating.”
By the age of six, Trew began entering grom contests for both surf and skateboarding and it wasn’t too long before the results came rolling in.
At 10, the young Aussie was travelling abroad for top-tier skate events, including claiming a silver in the women’s vert contest at the World Skateboarding Championships 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. Domestically she was also taking national titles, winning her first Bowlzilla at age 12. Her success on the concrete echoed her achievements on the water as she picked up junior state titles across age divisions.
With each contest, Trew’s confidence grew and so did her ambition, and it wasn’t too long before the women’s park skateboarding competition at Tokyo 2020 was in her sights. But in a turbulent time where nothing was promised to anyone, the Australian teen found herself on the wrong side of a COVID-19 outbreak in her team and was forced to withdraw from a qualifying event ending her hopes of trying to make it to the Games.
“I was really upset because it wasn’t even my fault that I got disqualified and it wasn’t the people who got COVID. So as well, it just was a thing that was going on and like, they caught it and I guess that was the way it was,” Trew says remembering the heartbreak.
Now with a fresh slate, and Paris 2024 approaching, Trew has the chance to try and qualify for the Olympics again and the thought of being in France after her previous run of bad luck is something the Sydneysider is relishing.
“I’ve got an opportunity to represent Australia, my country, and I’m just super proud that I can do that and show all the upcoming skaters in Australia that this is how Australian skaters roll. Like you might have some ups and downs in your career, but you just got to get back up and just push through it.”
Pursuing her Paris skate goals while still wanting to maintain her commitment to surfing and school means that Trew’s schedule is jam-packed.
“I wake up at around six and then get in the water for surfing around seven and then 07:00 to like 08:30, get out, go to school at 09:00,” Trew starts, explaining a typical day in her life.
“And then I might leave school and like 13:30 and then go skate until maybe like 16:00, and then I might go for another surf or I might go for another skate after that and then wake up and do the next day I do the same thing over again.”
Downtime for the Aussie is almost just as active with trips to the mall to go shopping and cycling to look for spots all things she loves to do with friends when she has the time.
While she admits it can be a bit lonely being so driven to achieve such big goals in two sports, the cross-coder says her family are always by her side encouraging her to keep going when things get tough.
“My family are my biggest supporters. They do anything to get me here, they give up all their time and effort and even like my little sisters, they always come to the skate park and go for a surf just to give me some company because it is really hard pushing yourself when you’re by yourself and it’s hard to get motivated but you just got to think about the end result and what you really want to achieve so that pushes me through it.”
Ready and raring to go in Rome as one of the women’s competition’s pre-seeded skaters, meaning she will get to skip the open qualifier owing to her Olympic ranking.
From there she will once more target the final to keep her qualification campaign on track.
With stiff competition coming from Japan, Brazil and the US, the Aussie knows she will need to dig deep into her big bag of tricks and unique flair to get back on top again.
Ever the competitor, with talk of the future the dual athlete also can’t help but share her hopes for dreams for surfing too, which, incidentally, also has a certain Olympic flavour.
“I would love to go and be on the World Championship Tour for surfing after the Paris Olympics,” Trew says excitedly. “I’d like to try and qualify for surfing [at the Olympics. Obviously trying to represent Australia is super hard because the girls are just amazing. But I guess I’ve just got to work hard and just try and improve both sports at the same time.”
Though her ambitions are grand and world-facing, she also has goals that are much closer to home too, and ones that reflect the special home she found in skateboarding all those years ago when she first started.
Having been inspired and mentored by Olympian Poppy Starr, Australia’s Tokyo 2020 women’s park representative known within the country for blazing a trail for women in the sport, Trew wants to pass that tradition on.
“I want to do what she did for me like the younger girls in Australia. I try and help them out, give them some tips and stuff just so they can get better. Because I want like Australian skateboarding to grow. So Australian girls are the best, and so everyone’s friends and they can help the younger girls in the next generation.”
Article courtesy of Olympics.com.au