Lola Tambling

Wisdom be damned – it’s the enthusiasm of youth that matters most for Lola Tambling, a skateboarder competing in (and occasionally winning) international tournaments at just 11 years old. She started skating when she was seven, inspired by her dad Martyn, a professional BMX rider. Undaunted by any notion that a lack of experience should hold her back, Lola has the Olympics in her sights.

How does skateboarding make you feel?

It makes me feel happy and so excited; I get really buzzed off it. I wouldn’t want to do anything else in the world. It’s so much fun when you get to travel and meet new people.

What has it taught you?

It’s helped me build my confidence. I can do anything in public now and I communicate with people better.

“Competitions are not about winning: they’re about having fun and making new friends”

How did you get started?

My dad built a skatepark that my mum also does loads of work for – she’s the best. On the opening day I saw loads of people skating and I wanted to try it out, so that’s how I started. But I didn’t know anything about it or what equipment to get, so my mum and dad got me this tiny Penny skateboard and a strawberry cycling helmet, and I was wearing my welly boots and these plastic Barbie kneepads. I looked ridiculous. Then, eventually, I got a proper board and actually got into it.

Did you realise straight away that it was the sport for you?

When I started it felt really good and I wanted to do more and more so I could get better, but I worked up to it because I knew my limits. I took my time, then I started doing the drop-ins and all of the other tricks. I think it took me a year to get used to carving around the bowl, kickturning and all the little tricks.

Did you ever get frustrated with the pace of your progress?

I did but not as much as I do at the minute, because I’m trying harder tricks now and it takes more time. It gets frustrating when you’re so close and you just want to land it; you just want to get it so bad. But I definitely prefer skating to other sports – it gives you freedom to go out there and do what you love. If you’re trying a trick you can just try it and try it again; you don’t have to wait until your next lesson or practice. It’s not like a football match, where you get 90 minutes to play then it’s over.

Has it been inspiring to grow up with a dad riding BMX professionally?

When I was younger I thought it was really cool seeing my dad do all these massive jumps and competitions. It definitely inspired me but not as much as it would have done if I was older: when I was younger I didn’t understand that much, but now I understand more. Now I’m like, “That’s so sick, my dad’s BMXing.” And now he’s old – not old, but older than he was back then – he’s still doing all this cool stuff. When he helps me it gives me power.

What’s it like to go riding and skating with him?

It’s the best feeling ever: dad and daughter. He doesn’t really ride his bike as much anymore but when he does, we’re stoked for each other. It’s really fun.

“I just want to skate all my life. I’m probably going to skate until I die”

Is skateboarding a male-dominated sport?

I’ve heard girls say it was before I was born, but it’s not anymore. There are way more girls starting to skate now. But some girls might be a bit intimidated in front of the boys, because that’s what I felt when I was younger, but the boys support the girls. I don’t mind who I skate with, it’s just a right laugh.

How do you feel when you skate competitively?

I get nervous but really excited. Some competitions are scarier than others; for instance, Dew Tour in California was big and scary. But it’s the best because you get to skate with your friends and you get to skate with other people. When you win it’s a really good feeling because you’ve worked so hard for it. You’ve worked your hardest, you’ve done your best and then, when it’s over, you’re like “Yes!” It’s definitely really good feelings. And even if you don’t win – or, say, you’ve come last – it doesn’t matter. At least you’ve gone for it. Competitions are not about winning: they’re about having fun and making new friends.

What about the Olympics?

I would definitely love to skate in the Olympics but I know it’s going to take time, because I’d have to be the best of the best to do that. I’d have to work so hard.

Would you like to follow in your dad’s footsteps and become a professional?

I would love to do that. My dream is to become a professional skater. It would be the best thing in the world; I just want to skate all my life. I’m probably going to skate until I die.

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