April 29th

USWA interview: Neal Hendrix

US pro skateboarder Neal Hendrix was special guest at the opening of the Urban Sports Week. He'll be checking out skateboarding and other sports this week.

Urbansportsweekamsterdam.com: Is this your first trip to Amsterdam?

Neal Hendrix: “I’ve been here a couple of times before, but never on King’s Day! I arrived here on Wednesday and never saw so much people dressed up in orange and packed in tiny boats. On previous trips to the Netherlands we always went to Rotterdam for competitions and spend some days in Amsterdam for sightseeing. This is the first time I’m in Amsterdam for a skateboard event, which is great!”

 

How important is it to have events like USWA for the development of skateboarding?

“Where I come from in North Carolina there were no facilities for skateboarding until I was about 16 years old. This really gave me the chance to improve quickly. Young athletes need skateparks and events like USWA to progress and to meet people who inspire them. More than facilities it’s the scene which is important. You need guys pushing each other to reach new limits.”

 

You are closely involved in efforts to get skateboarding at the Olympics. What is the current status?

“I’ve been involved in talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for about ten years now. We expect a decision to be taken in the coming months about inclusion of skateboarding in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. I think there is a 50/50 chance skateboarding will make it. Earlier this week I was in Lausanne for discussions with the IOC. We’ve still got quite some issues to solve. For skateboarders it’s important to protect our sport and to make sure the right format is used and to have the right athletes and course designers involved.”

 

Are you planning to do some skateboarding yourself this week?

“I’ll definitely try-out the street course at Museum Square, which looks terrific! I didn’t bring my own board though. Recently I’ve been mainly doing commentary for skateboarding events. I just flew back from Melbourne, Australia where I commented on a Park Series event.”

 

What other urban sports are you planning to watch at USWA?

“I’d love to see some freerunning at the Urban Sports Week. I work for Camp Woodward, a training facility in the US for aspiring and professional action sports. We may include parkour and freerunning to our program in near future. I’ll definitely check out some of the action this week.”