Skater O'Neill studies Tokyo street course

Shane O'Neill will be Australia's first skateboarding representative in the sport's Games debut.
Shane O'Neill will be Australia's first skateboarding representative in the sport's Games debut.

Study and skateboard don't sound a natural fit but that's what Australia's Shane O'Neill has been furiously doing with the Olympic course in Tokyo ahead of Sunday's opening event.

O'Neill will be Australia's first ever skateboarding representative, lining up in the men's street as the sport makes its Games debut

The 31-year-old has been a regular fixture on the global skate scene for more than a decade but is rated only an outside chance for gold.

Local hope Yuto Horigome and world No.1-ranked American Nyjah Huston are the raging favourites.

O'Neill admitted the big Ariake Urban Sports Park course was likely to favour those top two, with Horigome ranked second behind Huston.

"It's quite a large course, definitely the biggest obstacles we've ever seen in a contest, so I think that's going to favour some people," Melbourne-born O'Neill said.

"I think Yuto (Horigome) is going to do great, and there are a few other guys as well."

And O'Neill has another reason for plumping for Horigome if he doesn't win himself, with the 22-year-old part of O'Neill's own April Skateboards team and responsible for turning the Japanese competitor pro.

But former world champion O'Neill, who is ranked 14, is noted for his technical ability and could pull off a shock medal.

"I'm more of a technical type of skater, which means on this course I really need to figure out what I'm doing," O'Neill said.

"The course has a lot of options, so you can kind of choose where you want to skate, but I do think it favours a few people."

O'Neill said he was embracing his first opportunity to represent Australia.

"It's cool to be included in something like this, because usually when we go to a contest we're just doing it for ourselves, and we're all homies and good friends," O'Neill said.

"But adding the country aspect into this is different, and being part of the (Australian) team is pretty cool."

Australian Associated Press