Crowdfunding their dream, German-Lebanese skateboarders train for the Olympics
Airwalks, acid drops, boardslides and alley-oops are all soon to be making their debut on the Olympic stage as skateboarding premiers as a competitive sport at this year’s delayed Tokyo Games.
Lebanese-German brothers and Olympic hopefuls Pacel and Ali Khachab have no trouble executing the moves, but finding a place to practise indoors has proven more difficult.
Ironically in a country that has thousands of skaters in every city, Munich, the southern German capital, doesn’t have a single indoor skate facility.
“If you want to be prepared for the Olympics then it’s important that you have a place to train and there hasn’t been an indoor skate hall in Munich for the last 12 years,” 27-year-old Pacel tells Reuters.
“And it is of course not easy to be able to prepare in winter as there is basically a three, four month period where we can’t train and so to have our own skate hall is of huge importance as we can really prepare and train then,” he adds.
Pacel and Ali, who have been skating Munich’s parks and pavements for 17 years, were born in Germany and are the children of Beirut immigrants. They are hoping to represent Lebanon at the Olympics as the competition for a spot on the German team is so stiff.
“We have taken part in the good competitions all across Germany even though the standard was really really high. And as a result we have an advantage over the skaters from Lebanon who don’t even really have skate parks. And you need the experience really, to have experienced a certain standard of competition, to be able to handle the pressure over there (Olympics),” Ali says.
‘Skate to create’ is a popular skateboarding saying, one that Pacel and Ali have taken to heart, and after setting up a skate school two years ago they now want to beat Munich’s bitter winters and improve their competitive chances.
So far the pair have raised 23,000 of 30,000 euros through a crowd-funding campaign and with extra support from sponsors, hope to have their indoor skate hall up and running by April.
“If we are successful in setting up our skate hall here and maybe have some success in the Olympics, then we would love to build a skate park in Lebanon and if possible especially in our home town in Beirut,” says Pacel.
Currently there are no skate parks in Lebanon and as few as several hundred skaters active, something the brothers hope to change.
There will be two disciplines on the skateboarding programme at Tokyo 2020: street and park. The competition will include both men’s and women’s events.
The street and park skateboarding competitions will be held in July and August 2021.
According to Tokyo Olympics 2020, 20 skaters will first compete in four heats of five skaters. The first eight skaters from the combined ranking of the heats will progress to the finals.
Pacel and Ali hope to be among them – and make their friends and family proud as they watch from back home in Beirut and Munich.