Respect & Gold: Heimana Reynolds' Big Plans for Skateboarding in Tokyo

22-year-old pro skater Heimana Reynolds is on a mission for respect for his profession and to make history as an Olympic gold medalist

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The Tokyo Olympics will be full of history-making moments and we know several of them will come on a skateboard as the sport makes its debut at the summer games.

Heimana Reynolds, 22, is a North County park-style skateboarder and has as good of a shot at finding the top of the podium as anyone. He's currently the top-ranked USA park-style skateboarder, and it isn’t even close.

The Hawaiian native moved to San Diego’s North County because it’s the skateboarding capital of the world, but he hasn’t let his aloha spirit disappear.

He said he eats poke for breakfast, wears shoes as little as possible and surfs in between skate sessions.

“You look at my truck, I still have a Toyota Tacoma. That’s what everyone drives in Hawaii,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds purchased a home in Carlsbad in order to be close to several North County skate parks, where he trains several times a day.

His schedule resembles that of other professional athletes, but he said the hard work is often glossed over by people who don’t understand his sport.

“Like the majority of the population that doesn't know anything about skateboarding, they just think of skateboarding as a hobby, something kids do, delinquent kids do -- the trespassers, the vandalisers, those are skateboarders," Reynolds said of the judgment skaters are often subjected to.

He is on a mission for respect and is excited about what the Olympics will do for the stigma of his profession.

“Like a doctor, he has a 9 to 5 job right?” Reynolds said. “Skateboarding is mine. I go to the skatepark 9 to 5.”

Unlike most other professional athletes, Reynolds and other skaters frequent training grounds where they rub elbows with novice athletes and neighborhood kids.

I'm lucky enough to make this my livelihood

Heimana Reynolds

Reynolds is a regular at the Encinitas (Poods) Skate Park, where he can blend in for a while. When he starts pushing himself with jumps and rails, however, it doesn’t take long for a crowd to notice and gather around.

His talent is undeniable even to the untrained eye, but it’s his passion that he believes can carry his childhood love to a lifelong career.

"I love skateboarding. Like, this is what I do. I chose this cause I love to do it and I'm lucky enough to make this my livelihood," he said.

When COVID-19 shut down competitions and skateparks in the spring of 2020, Reynolds said his training routine got a lot more boring and he started to experiment around his house.

"Since all the skateparks were closed, I was pretty much skating right here in my living room," he recalled. "I set up this coffee table, put it right there, skated over it, skated on it, skated in my garage. I got to the point where I had a bunch of cases of vitamin water and set it up as a rail and skated on them. Somehow, it worked."

He said it brought him back to the most simple elements of skating and trying new things and was a “blessing in disguise.”

Now, he’s focused on doing the one thing no skateboarder has ever done before: winning gold at the Olympics.

Listen/Subscribe to NBC 7’s Olympic Dreams: San Diego to Tokyo podcast wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. On each episode, NBC 7 News Today anchor Steven Luke will sit down with athletes in their prime, each with their sights set on one thing: representing Team USA in Tokyo this summer. How will they achieve their Olympic dreams?

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