(Update: adding video, comments from Bend skateboarder, climber)
Sports fans can now watch traditionally niche sports in Tokyo
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Skateboarding, surfing, karate and sport climbing are making their debut as official Olympic sports. They're being added to help attract younger viewers and inspire them to work toward competing in future Olympics. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics begin, a new fan base also emerges on the High Desert.
Devin Martindale has been skateboarding for 17 years, ever since his grandma gave him a skateboard for his 12th birthday. While he's excited for skateboarding to be taken to the next level, Devin says the culture of skateboarding is has always been more individualized -- but he welcomes more versatility.
"It's cool that there's an avenue for each," Martindale told NewsChannel 21 on Friday. "If you want to be competitive, you want to do organized, you can do that -- or you can do your own thing, be creative, make videos with your friends."
Trevor James picked up sport climbing on a whim and is excited it's getting Olympic attention.
"I think it's going to be awesome. You know, it's going to be really cool to see the sport at that level." James said.
James says with more publicity, the climbing-gym industry has grown, and been made more accessible to everyone.
"In the last 10 years alone, since I've been climbing, it's changed so much. It's grown so much, and it's only going to grow the sport even more." James said.
Both Martindale and James say it's more about the feeling you get from the sport that makes it so special.
"It's the sense of accomplishment," Martindale said. "When I land a new trick or learn a new trick -- and a lot of it is the culture, the scene, the making friends and meeting people. Just going out and having fun with them, having something to do."
Both men say they are excited to watch the sport they love debut on the world's largest stage. But they also hope it doesn't change the culture and what makes the experience so special for them.