Poppy Starr Olsen may be just 16, but the Newcastle skateboarder already has the world at her feet, or possibly in her hands, depending on which skateboarding manoeuvre she is executing.
She has world titles to her name, has been invited to do demonstrations with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, has Hollywood A-listers tweeting about her and this month became the first Australian female to compete in the Summer X Games.
But for someone who spends so much time attempting to launch herself high in the air, Olsen remains firmly grounded.
“I’ve been busy but it’s been good,” a relaxed Olsen said upon returning to Australian last week.
Olsen was invited to the prestigious Summer X Games in Austin, Texas, after taking the skateboarding world by storm.
The talented skateboarding teen turned professional this year and immediately made an impact.
She won the professional division of the Vans Combi Classic, the World Cup of Skateboarding, in California in January.
Back home at the Australian Bowl-Riding Championship at Bar Beach in February, the Newcastle High School student won the open women’s division for the fourth time and made the semi-finals of the open men’s division.
In April she travelled to Malmo, Sweden to compete at Vert Attack, the largest vert skateboarding competition in Europe, and placed fifth in the finals.
She described the honour of being the first female from Australia to compete in the prestigious Summer X Games in Texas this month as “amazing”.
Olsen finished ninth in the skateboard park women’s final.
“I was there for about 10 days and it was really fun; it was just amazing to hang out with all the other professional skaters and it was just amazing to skate with them,” Olsen said.
“I fell on the first day so I was a bit bruised everywhere and a bit sore, so I didn’t go as good as I hoped, but it was still fun to be there.”
In the lead-up to the X Games, Olsen was shown support by many of her compatriots, including Hollywood actor Liam Hemsworth.
Hemsworth tweeted: “Watching the morning news in Sydney, Australia today and came across a story about a young female skateboarder, @poppystarr. Only 16 and has already achieved so much! Keep at it! You’re an inspiration”.
“That was really cool, I shared it on instagram,” a modest Olsen said.
Her life returns to a bit of normalcy for a few weeks before she heads back to the United States at the end of next month for the Vans US Open in California.
She has also been asked to do some skateboarding demonstrations with Hawk while she is there.
“This trip is one of the longer trips that I am going on because there will be several different competitions over there,” she said.
“I just want to compete the best I can and try to get a place at each event.
“I want to get some high positions and start winning some money so then I can get to other events and I can focus more on skating, which I love.”
In any spare time she has between training, competing and school, the young artist runs her own gift card-making and jewellery-making business online to help fund her skateboarding dream.
“I started making cards to try to fund my overseas trips but I have expanded into jewellery now too,” she said.
“I draw little pictures and stick them in metal cases and make them into key rings and put them onto necklaces.”
Sponsorship is hard to come by but skateboarding has been discussed as a possible inclusion in the 2020 Toyko Olympics, which could open the door for funding.
“That will be amazing because then I think the sponsors will start coming,” Olsen said. “I am definitely aiming for the Olympics if it comes in; that would be amazing to represent our country.”
You can follow Olsen’s progress at poppystarr.com