Jean-Marc Johannes: Flying skater thrills

Jean-Marc Johannes is an international gold medalist in skateboarding.
Jean-Marc Johannes is an international gold medalist in skateboarding.

South Africa's skateboarding champ Jean-Marc Johannes continues to break world records.

Next year he hopes to take his crazy perfect skills to the Olympics in Tokyo - where skateboarding will be represented for the first time ever.

Johannes, considered one of the top 100 athletes globally, says it will be a dream come true to represent his country on an international stage.

Last week the street skater achieved what he once thought was impossible. He broke the Guinness World Record for the most fakie flips in one minute. This was set by USA skateboarder and MTV host of Ridiculousness, Rob Dyrdek, in 2006.

Johannes successfully completed 12 fakie heelflips in 51 seconds at the Skateboarding for Hope event at the Kimberley Skate Park last weekend. This is his first of many things, including being the first skateboarder to be recognised by the Cape Town Sports Council.

His first attempt at a world record was in 2017, for the most nollie flips in one minute, 14 to be exact.

He explains a nollie flip is like trying to do things with your left hand when you are in fact right-handed. The rider performs the kickflip off the nose of the skateboard, popping the board with the less dominant foot while a Fakie flip is basically riding backwards in your normal stance and flipping the board a complete 360 degrees.

"I took it upon myself to challenge these records because no other South African was doing it. I applied and the following year I again broke my own record with 18 in 50 seconds. Last year I also received the world record for SA's first international skateboarding gold, silver and bronze medalist ever - as my third world record," says the proud gentleman.

Born and raised in Athlone, Cape Town, Johannes first started skateboarding when he was 10 years old, and won his first contest at the age of 11.

He claims the competition he won wasn't something he planned to enter. "When this happened I knew that this would become much more than my weekend hobby."

By the time he was 15 he was considered as one of SA's best 10 skate boarders.

Now an international gold medalist and the current FISE World Series Am number one skateboarder, he is confident that one day he may be able to jump from one building to the next on a skateboard.

It's not impossible as he already made eyes pop when he soared 10m into the air between two suspended containers which were 3m apart.

He is also the first skateboarder in the world to complete an Ollie jump from one shipping container to another - from a height of three stories.

Johannes's list of achievements are endless, but his goal is firmly placed on the games next year.

"I am confident that the Olympics will be my best competition performance to date, should I qualify," he says.

He says after failing at other sporting codes, skateboarding proved to be for him - despite hard falls and long hours of training that saw him turn pro.

"For me it was a difficult process but worth it in the long run. This after I won SA's first gold, silver and bronze medals for international skateboarding up until last year. I started receiving invitations to the more professionally ranked events such as the SLS or Street League Skateboarding Open," he says.

Johannes also has a slot on Good Hope FM where he encourages youths to enjoy the streets constructively.

His charity initiative, Fill the Gap, provides underprivileged skaters with second-hand skateboarding gear, as well as promotes the sport at schools locally and internationally.

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