CHEK Upside: Courtenay skateboarder takes major step toward Olympic games

CHEK Upside: Courtenay skateboarder takes major step toward Olympic games
CHEK
WatchFrom his backyard halfpipe to the international stage, Shay Sandiford aims to inspire others while helping bring the sport to new heights.

Shay Sandiford is one of skateboarding’s soaring stars and is well known in the California skate scene.

But Sandiford’s story actually begins in Courtenay.

“I first got into skateboarding from seeing my dad skate,” said Sandiford from his home in Los Angeles. “I just saw him pushing around and thought it looked really cool.”

The GP Vanier Secondary grad grew up spending countless hours at Isfeld skate park, and when it rained, Sandiford had perhaps the ideal plan ‘B’.

“I built a skateboard ramp here in the backyard,” says Shay’s father, Fumi Sandiford.

Like Walter Gretzky, who built an ice rink for his famous son Wayne, Fumi made sure his son had his own personal space to practice.

Both Fumi, now in his sixties, and Shay’s mother Michelle, still use the covered halfpipe ramp to this day. Shay, meanwhile, now lives with his sister and stepbrother in Los Angeles and is pursuing the skating dream he’s had from a young age.

“I feel like a lot of kids, growing up you try basketball, you try soccer, you try all these different sports,” said the 23-year-0ld. “But me, I had such a strong passion for skateboarding at the age of six and kind of had tunnel vision.”

As a teenager, Sandiford’s talent and focus earned him many victories at competitions around British Columbia. It wasn’t long until Sandiford began attracting sponsors and competing internationally in places such as Brazil and New York.

“It’s wonderful,” said Sandiford, mother Michelle, who spoke with CHEK News from her home in Courtenay. “I feel very fortunate that he found something as a young child, right, so he kept busy and it kept him out of trouble.”

With the sport set to make its Olympic Games debut this summer in Tokyo, Sandiford was one of twelve people named to Canada’s first-ever national skateboard team. He will participate in a series of qualifiers in order to officially earn a spot in this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Sandiford was one of twelve people named to the national team and will participate in a series of qualifiers in order to officially earn a spot in this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

It’s a point of pride for Sandiford, who is happy to see the sport he loves reach a new level of legitimacy.

“People are understanding that skateboarding is a real official sport, it’s not just, like, some activity that the kid should grow out of at a certain point.”

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Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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