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Former pro skateboarder says Olympics will restart sport’s popularity: ‘Gonna go crazy’

No skateboarder, in terms of popularity, has come close to Tony Hawk. Just about every video game bared his name, and for most, he is the only skateboarder people can name.

Street League Skateboarding, founded by Rob Dyrdek in 2010, hands out the most prize money in the history of skateboarding, and its television deal with Fox Sports 1 brings in fans across the nation to see professionals bring out their inner child.

However, for the first time ever, the sport will be featured in the Olympics this year, and one former skateboarder says the Games in Paris could be a huge step in getting skateboarding back to its glory days.

Paul Rodriguez did not have the opportunity to compete for an Olympic gold (he won four in his X Games career, and won two events in Street League Skateboarding). However, he is going to live vicariously through his friends who will.

“To see it in the Olympics is pretty incredible. To see my friends going, like, you’re an Olympian bro,” Rodriguez said in a recent interview with Fox News Digital. “We didn’t know that was something we could dream about when we first started skating. We just wanted to skate, make a little video, maybe get into X Games, but the Olympics wasn’t even on our radar. Now, I have a handful of friends. I know Olympians now. It’s a crazy thing to say.

Paul Rodriguez on ramp

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“For me watching them, I’m extremely proud of them. I’m seeing how hard they’ve had to work to get there, to earn their way into the Olympics, the rigors of all the qualifications they have to go through to get it, it’s impressive, it’s tough…It’s really incredible, I’m really happy, and I look forward to watching.”

In fact, Rodriguez actually feels that the sport is reaching its highest point in popularity right now. 

“It’s definitely consistently growing bigger than ever since I came in the game…” Rodriguez added. “I think it’s continuously grown. I think sometimes, people grow out of it and don’t stay in touch with it, so it seems not as popular as it was when they were in it for themselves.”

However, he predicts that fewer people will outgrow it.

Paul Rodriguez grinding

“Right now, we need a few more generations of kids who skated, then they grow up, have a family, and they introduce their kids to skateboarding, and those kids introduce their kids. … Once the general public has the basis education of what they’re watching, skateboarding is gonna go crazy. [The Olympics are] just one more step on the educational process. Give it a few more generations… skateboarding is going to be heavily in that rotation.”

The Olympic roster is headlined by six-time world championship gold medalist and 12-time X Games winner Nyjah Houston.

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