18-year-old Katie Pike dreams of being the first Scottish skateboarder at the Paris 2024 Olympics, even if that means sacrificing her social life to skate alone in an empty bowl five days a week.
Before Pike’s skateboarding journey began in Canberra, Australia, Pike had previously grown up, and spent the majority of her life, in Scotland.
Raised by her Scottish mother and Australian father, the family moved to Australia when she was 11 years old.
It was not until her 14th birthday that she got her first skateboard, after being enticed by skateboarding videos online.
It was at ‘free to skateboard’ lessons in Canberra where she learned how to drop in and, from that moment, fell in love with the sport.
“I love the fact that you get to decide as an individual what you want to do. In a team sport, you have a coach that tells you what to do, whereas in skateboarding you can do different tricks, you have different styles. It’s cool how I can choose what path to take,” said Pike.
In embracing her individuality and creativity at the skatepark, she has also gained invaluable confidence and resilience.
“I can express my personality and style through what I do, but I also like that it helps with a lot of things in life. You fall a lot, you get back up, keep trying, and you get it eventually.”
Four years on from her first drop-in, Pike, now 18, has made her mark overseas in British skateboarding, after coming 2nd in the Skateboard GB Park National Championships.
This second-place finish earned her an invite to represent Skateboard GB at a Paris 2024 Olympic qualifier event, the Rome Park 2023 World Championships.
“I was really happy [to hear the invitation news]. I was obviously really nervous because I knew the girls were amazing that skated and since I came second, I had the thought in the back of my mind.
“I was like, ‘Oh will I get invited, will I not?’ But I was still really shocked when I did because I thought, ‘I’m just some girl from Australia,’” she said.
In Rome, she finished 41st, 11 places above fellow Briton, and official Team GB member, Lilly Strachan.
“I was really stoked to be there. It was unreal. I was still shocked to be there. I was like, ‘Oh, this is an Olympic qualifier.’ I was pretty happy with how I did in the end.”
While skateboarding has given her the key to travel the world and meet new people, it has not come without its drawbacks.
“It can be really hard to motivate myself when obviously a lot of my friends don’t skate. They are like, ‘Do you want to come hang out? You want to go to the coast?’ I can’t ‘cause I’ve got to train.
“At the same time, I should have a social life in skating, but I’ve got no one to train with so I’m leaving my friends to skate and train by myself. That’s pretty hard.”
Pike is the only female park skater in Canberra and often finds she has the bowl section of the skatepark to herself.
Fellow Canberra skateboarder, and one of Australia’s best, Ethan Copeland, is regularly found travelling the country whilst the older male skaters are away at work.
She has to travel three and a half hours to Sydney just to train and skate with other girls or women.
“[Male skaters sometimes say] ‘Oh my gosh, there’s a girl skating the massive bowl.’ Then walk over to watch.
“Then again, I kind of like being the only girl because the guys try to show me up and it doesn’t work.”
Pike emphasised that the thrill of successfully landing tricks and the anticipation of endless possibilities is what keeps her coming back.
“Before I go to bed every night, I’m like, ‘OK, what trick am I going to get? What trick am I going to try?’ Then I go to the skatepark, and I do it and when I get [the trick], I’m so happy.”
In the long term, Pike, who is in her final year of college, has her sights set on a sports scholarship at university alongside studying a teaching course.
For now, though, her ambition is to become the first Scottish skateboarder to compete in the Olympics at Paris 2024.
To qualify, Pike will have to gain points at World Skate events to climb the Olympic World Skate Rankings (OWSR) as high as she can.
Athletes will then be selected by name according to the OWSR as of 24th June 2024, with 20 places up for grabs.
The next step to fulfil her Olympic dream lies in Dubai where she has recently been invited to represent Skateboard GB at the World Skate Tour Dubai Park 2024 competition in February.