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Canadian Annie Guglia a late add to Olympic skateboarding field

·4 min read

TOKYO — Micky Papa was riding high after nailing two tricks in his sport's Olympic debut. Annie Guglia was over the moon about her unusual journey to Tokyo.

The Canadian skateboarders bumped fists Sunday on a dusty pathway outside the Ariake Urban Sports Park on a historic day for the sport.

Papa, covered in sweat after completing his heat in the street competition, was thrilled he cleared the nine-point plateau for the first time. Guglia, meanwhile, was taking in the surroundings, still buzzing about her late inclusion in the women's field.

While Papa joined the sport's exclusive 'nine club' with a trick he called an 'ollie-180-nosegrind back-to-regular down the big rail,' he missed out on the eight-man final round with a 10th-place finish.

"I came here to do that trick and that was what I did," he said. "Both of those tricks, getting in the nine club, that's all I can be and I'm really happy about it."

Japan's Yuto Horigome later won gold ahead of Brazil's Kelvin Hoefler and American Jagger Eaton. Matt Berger, a native of Kamloops, B.C., was last in the 20-man field.

Papa, from Vancouver, had mediocre results over his two runs (6.66 and 5.50) but nailed two of five tricks (9.01 and 9.22). The top four scores are used for the overall mark, leaving him about two points short of the cutline with a 30.39 total.

"I'm not going to have some magic miracle and be like the best run skater overnight," he said. "But I know what I am bringing and that was two nines, so I'm happy about it."

Guglia, meanwhile, came up short at the recent Olympic qualifier but jumped at the chance when the Canadian Olympic Committee asked her this week if she wanted to travel to Japan to serve as an alternate.

The decision paid off Sunday when she formally joined the team roster. A spot in the field became available when a South African athlete ranked ahead of her suffered an injury, the COC said.

"I would say it has been a roller-coaster but no, it has been just up," Guglia said.

The Canadian skateboarders weighed in while on opposite sides of a fencing barrier. Their skateboards were tucked between pickets by a row of asagao flowers planted by local students and tagged with supportive notes for Olympic workers and athletes.

"Now I'm not only here but I'm also skating," Guglia said. "It honestly feels unreal."

Guglia originally planned to casually follow the Olympics at home because it hurt so much that she didn't qualify. She had been included in the promotional buildup in Canada ahead of the Games and was featured prominently on billboards.

The 30-year-old Montreal was comfortable making the trip knowing she may not compete.

"Maybe I'll stay three days in a hotel room, I don't know," she thought at the time. "But I wanted to come to Tokyo (even if) nothing is going to happen."

Two negative COVID-19 tests and a long travel day later, she got a message while waiting in a COVID-19 testing line Saturday night after arriving in Japan.

Coach Adam Higgins eventually connected with her to share the news that she was in. They both started crying tears of joy.

"I was not expecting it but I'm ready," she said.

The women's street field changed this week when Dutch skater Candy Jacobs said she tested positive for COVID-19. That bumped Spain's Andrea Benitez into the draw.

The next two highest-ranked skateboarders - Ana Maria Rendon Castano and Guglia - were on the potential alternate list. When the Colombian was unable to commit, Guglia moved to the front of the line.

"It couldn't have been more last minute," she said. "They're like, 'You're in.' It's kind of cool because I didn't have the stress buildup and now it's too late to be stressed."

She planned to practise at the venue later Sunday and will be the lone Canadian in the field Monday.

Her addition brings the Canadian team's delegation size up to 371.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2021.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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