Skaters ride off with R5-million cash
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Professional and amateur skateboarders walked off with prizes totaling R5-million at the country’s biggest championship for this sport held in Kimberley this weekend.
The third annual Kimberley Diamond Cup, organised by the Northern Cape government, drew almost 200 local and foreign competitors.
Among the youngest winners was Jagger Eaton, 12, from Arizona in the United States, who beat grown men to win first place in the best big air trick category. Eaton flashed a silver smile – he has braces on his teeth – as he walked off with a R50,000 cheque.
“I’m going to buy a heck of a lot of toys… I wasn’t intimidated. The bigger guys because encouraged me,” said Eaton.
His father Geoff Eaton said they had already competed in skateboarding competitions in Brazil, Spain, Germany and the US this year. He is a former professional gymnast who represented the US at global events.
“We enjoy this and travel around the world to compete. I’ll support my kids if they can avoid growing up,” said Eaton.
In the amateur category, Braxton Hane, 19, from Durban took R20,000 first prize. Hane competed in this category in the last two annual competitions held at the Kimberley Skate Park. He won third place last year and second place in the inaugural year in 2011.
“I’ve been skating for the last ten years. I’m stoked that I won. Next year I hope to compete with the pros. That will take a lot of practice,” said Hane.
“To get a big cash prize is cool. I recently had a baby boy with my girlfriend so this money is to take care of him. Our son’s name is Maverick and he was born on September 5. He’s going to skate before he can walk.”
Spectators traveled from various cities for the weekend event. Kyle Bruintjies, 16, from Panorama drove to Kimberley with his parents, sister and cousins.
“I had to save up to buy skateboards and stuff. I saved my monthly allowance for eight months. It wasn’t difficult to save because I was determined to come here. It’s a fun event,” said Bruintjies.
“I want to compete next time because I would like to win R20,000.”
Friends Dom de Villiers, 15, and Liam Loughnane, 17, from the northern suburbs traveled to the event “for the vibe and to watch the pros”.
“I competed in the first two competitions and we need more skateboarding competitions in South Africa,” said Loughnane.
Robert Gale from Johannesburg traveled to the championship for the first time with friends who competed.
“There are one or two skate parks in Johannesburg but nothing like this. There are also competitions in Johannesburg but this kills every other competition that there’s been in South Africa. This is the biggest one,” said Gale.
“There should be other events outside the competition. Maybe they should have some DJs and after parties. It’s a bit quiet in Kimberley.”
John Block, the Northern Cape’s MEC for finance, economic development and tourism, said the provincial government has spent R60-million over the last three years on the championship and skateboarding development.
“We are rolling out skate parks in the province. We have a team of skateboarders who go out and teach children how to skate. We’ve invested a lot in infrastructure,” said Block.
“The biggest return is getting young people interested in sport. We want to get them off the streets. So this is not just about skateboarding.”
Block added: “We are also promoting Kimberley as an extreme sport destination. We now have people coming from different countries to compete in this event. We’ve never had so much exposure as a city and province. It’s paying off.”