Aussie Olympian returns from retirement for Sydney skating debut

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At 19, Hayley Wilson made her Olympic debut. At 20, she retired.

The now 21-year-old skateboarder from Victoria made history at the Tokyo Olympics when she became the first woman to represent Australia in the discipline at an Olympic level, but the event was also a tipping point in her career.

Hayley Wilson retired from competition skating in 2022, but she’s making a guest appearance at the SLS event in Sydney.Credit: Brook Mitchell

“It took me about a year from the Olympics to when I decided [to retire]. It took me a long time to really set that in stone,” she said.

“I lost pretty much all love for it. I’d go to the skate park, and it would be like a chore, and I didn’t want that any more. I wanted to feel like it was when I first started skating.”

A year since announcing her retirement, Wilson is in a much better space. Now, she spends most of her time in front of a camera, skating and creating content for Nike.

“I just go to the skate park for fun and learn tricks, and then I go out filming. And it’s really different to contests because contests you have one chance, you have one day where you have to skate your very best,” she said.

“But with filming, if you don’t get a trick you can go back as many times as you want, you have so many opportunities and choices.

“I’m skating better than I ever have, so it’s nice to be more relaxed and not be as serious.”

Hayley Wilson in action at the SLS practice session on Friday.Credit: Brook Mitchell

But Wilson is making a brief comeback – she is one of about 50 skaters in Sydney this weekend for the Street League Skateboarding (SLS) championship – a three-leg competition where skaters try to qualify for the Super Crown World Championship in Brazil at the end of the year.

With the competition making its Australian debut, Wilson decided to make a guest appearance for the event’s first time in her home country.

“This is my first competition back since announcing that I wasn’t competing any more, but this one’s just a fun one, I’m just doing this [because] it’s in my home country, so why wouldn’t I?” she said.

For most skaters on the SLS circuit, the Paris Olympics is on their mind.

That’s certainly true for Australian young guns Chloe Covell and Hailey Powell, who are chasing an Olympic debut in 2024.

13-year-old Chloe Covell is one of the youngest skaters on the SLS circuit. Credit: Brook Mitchell

Thirteen-year-old Chloe from the Gold Coast became the youngest female competitor to win X Games gold when she won in 2022, and is heading into this weekend’s competition as the reigning SLS winner after claiming the top spot in Tokyo in August.

“I just want to get better and better at skating and hopefully get more podium wins,” Chloe said.

“It’s one of my biggest goals to compete in the Olympics.”

For 17-year-old Hailey from the Sunshine Coast, who is making her SLS debut, her ambition is to become an Olympian.

“Definitely Paris 2024 is my main goal. I’m in a good position for that right now,” she said.

“Other than that I just want to keep street skating, get some footage out there, but definitely even if I can get to 2028 [Los Angeles Olympics], that would be sick,” she said.

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