Mariah Duran made history as one of the first members of the United States Skateboarding Team at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. Even though she’s been a historic part of the sport, it was a long journey to reach the international competition.
While the Olympics are an important occasion for all athletes competing, 2021 was especially important for skateboarders as the summer games marked the first time that skateboarding was considered an Olympic sport. Mariah Duran, 24, was selected as one of the skaters to represent Team USA in the women’s competition. Mariah told HollywoodLife that it’s “crazy to be skating here on this stage” as part of the inaugural skating team in an exclusive interview. She also revealed that it’s equally as important to prepare mentally for the games, as it is to physically prepare.
Mariah, who started skating when she was 10, said it wasn’t an easy journey to get to the 2021 Olympics between a hectic 2019, which felt like it consisted of “back-to-back contests,” and 2020, when “everything shut down.” The street skater said that she had a lot of doubts about skateboarding. “I had to re-evaluate why I was doing this in the first place, because, at the time, the Olympics weren’t happening, contests weren’t happening, sponsors weren’t asking for anything,” she told HollywoodLife. “Coming out of all of that and coming into this new year, I’m mentally stronger and just appreciative to even be here.”
The 2021 Olympics have sparked much conversations about mental health, and have shown how important it is to be in the right headspace when it comes time to compete. Mariah said that the contest was very much a “mental game” when considering that she’s up against the best skaters from around the globe. “Everybody deserves to win. It’s not easy-peasy. Accepting the fact that, regardless of if I took first or dead last, I was going to continue to skate and that wasn’t going to determine my happiness. That was my main thing. I’ve been through contests and there are highs and lows,” she said.
Besides knowing that she wouldn’t let the competition get her down, if it didn’t pan out as well as she’d like, Mariah said that she wanted to be “present” and really take in what it meant to skate at the Olympics. It’s also a humbling experience to want to get better at her craft. “Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t, but one thing I can take away is: failure is the best teacher, especially in skateboarding. Everybody that starts falls for the first time, and they have to decide if they want to get up or if it’s not for them. I’m definitely one person to think of the brighter side and keep feeling the fire,” she said.
Now that she’s finished competing in the summer games, Mariah said that getting to participate in the Olympics provided “more motivation” and “more of a purpose” to keep skating. She said it was inspiring to see young people who wanted to pick up boards after the competition. ” You need people coming into the game and pushing it,” she said. “That’s also why I’m partnering with Always. They stand for that. They want to keep young adults in sports specifically, it’s hard during the puberty ages of 12-14. When they see that, I hope they can pursue that and it inspires them. I’ve learned so much about myself, not even just through skating, just through sports in general. ”