JAKARTA — Indonesia’s nine-year-old skateboarder Aliqqa Noverry is set to melt hearts at the Asian Games — but give her ice cream and she could be a medal threat, says her mum.
The youngest competitor at this year’s event in Jakarta, the pint-sized adrenaline junkie loves nothing better than to rip into jumps at breakneck speed, her pigtails billowing behind her.
“I like all the tricks and going so fast — that’s the fun part,” Aliqqa told AFP. “My family support me but they’re also very surprised knowing that I’m the youngest athlete here,” added the trailblazing teeny-bopper, who stands just 1.30 meters (4ft, 2in) tall and has only been skating for two years.
“Being the youngest makes me a little nervous but also more motivated. But my friends think it’s a bit unfair that I get to skip school.”
Clearly nine is the new 16 — especially in the hipster sport of skateboarding, which is making its Asian Games debut and will appear at the Olympics for the first time at Tokyo in 2020.
Coolly fist-bumping the bigger boarders at her local skate park on the outskirts of Jakarta, Aliqqa stops shredding to observe the call to prayer from the local mosque.
“I think I would like to skate in Tokyo,” nodded Aliqqa, who could potentially come up against host country Japan’s skateboarding Tinkerbell, Sky Brown, at the 2020 Olympics.
“I want to get as much experience as possible from lots of different Games.”
Proud mother Nin Hardi admits to being scared witless as she sits and watches her daughter skating with boys almost twice her size.
“Of course I worry,” she said. “That’s why I never leave her alone and always go with her to practice.”
Hardi also reveals little Aliqqa’s secret weapon in her quest for gold — ice cream.
“If she gets ice cream, she’s all pumped up,” said mum, who took care to hire a coach who would teach her daughter the correct techniques to help reduce injuries.
As she prepares to make Asian Games history, Aliqqa admits that the bumps and scrapes are the worst part of her favorite hobby.
“I don’t like the injuries,” she said, screwing up her nose. “I twisted my ankle badly once and I couldn’t walk for five days. I can get a bit traumatised by a trick if it injures me.”
Aliqqa’s coach backed his young prodigy to do well at the Asian Games, which kicks off this weekend.
“At times she can be a bit moody,” admitted Yudi Toengkagie. “But if she’s in a good mood she’s full of beans and never gives up, despite being so little.”
Aliqqa, though, just wants to have fun.
“My hopes are that I want to enjoy myself,” she said, sporting a red Indonesia sweatshirt.
“I want to get more experience, learn lots of tricks from skaters from other countries and have fun competing in international competitions.” — AFP