Olympic skateboarder Minna Stess trains at a skatepark in Napa, California. GETTY IMAGES

With the kickoff in China’s hippest city just a day away, Australian Logan Martin and Britain’s Charlotte Worthington headline the BMX freestyle competition, while Leonardo Veddriq, of Indonesia and Nonaka Miho, of Japan, are sport climbing’s main attraction for this inaugural two-part-series event.

Sky Brown, another Team GB phenom in skateboarding, is the youngest-ever Olympic medal winner to participate in the highly-regarded OQS. American Nyjah Huston and Japan's reigning Olympic champion, Horigome Yuto, are also in the mix for medals in the sport, one of four that will be showcased in the tournament with direct tickets to the 2024 Paris Olympics in play.

Breaking, a welcome addition to the upcoming Summer Games, completes the menu at this one-of-a-kind multi-competition spectacle that will take place from 16 to 19 May, marking the first instance where athletes from these four disciplines will compete together, sharing the same venue. A total of 464 men and women will contend across different sports in order to earn crucial ranking points: it will be up to a 100 in case of BMX freestyle, breaking, and sport climbing, split equally between Shanghai and Budapest, the second part of the OQS scheduled for 20-to 23 June, with a maximum of 50 points available at each event. As for skateboarding, both tournaments will total two-third of the ranking point total, with the rest derived from previous competitions.

“We have two fantastic host cities in Shanghai and Budapest o bring four sports in qualification for Paris: breaking, BMX, freestyle, skateboarding and sports climbing are coming together in a few days. All the action in an urban environment with a festival atmosphere, music culture and sport coming together,” celebrated Kit McConnell, the International Olympic Committee’s sports director.

Both the IOC and local organisers are hopeful that the event will generate plenty of buzz and spectator interaction, having designed various fan-engagement activities specific to each sport featured. But this high-stakes competition might not need much more bling, as it currently registers up to 18 Olympians who earned medals at Tokyo 2020, and 81 overall.

None of those, obviously, will come from breaking, which will be debuting fully in the 2024 Games, but sill has plenty headlining muscle to offer in Shanghai with an elite lineup that hopes to make a splash in the lead-up to Paris: Japan’s B-Girl Ami and B-Boy Jeffro and Logistx, from the US, will battle it out in China’s asphalt before heading to Budapest and hopefully France soon after.

“This is a hugely exciting project. Its helps us highlight the significant innovations in the Olympic programme. It started in Tokyo with proposals for new sports. More youth, more urban and more women. Paris will be the first fully gender equal Olympic Games in history,” McConnell forecasted. “The addition of breaking brings a further emphasis on youth-focused urban sport”. 

Olympic champion Martin hopes to make waves in BMX freestyle, while Worthington figures to face stiff competition from a US women’s squad also featuring Alise Willoughby, the 2016 Olympic silver medallist and 2017 and 2019 world champion, and Hannah Roberts, who won silver in the event’s Olympic debut in Tokyo and owns five world titles.

17-year-old prodigy Minna Stess is among the key Americans expected to shine in Shanghai, as she ranks as her country’s best female skateboarder and sixth best in the world after she debuted at an early age and first competed in the X-Games when she was just 11. Others include Nyjah Huston, a six-time street world champion, and Jagger Eaton, the only athlete to win world titles in park and street. “The next phase is going to be stressful for everybody and no one's safe. Which, you know, might make it a little more exciting. Everything can still happen,”  19-year-old Dutch Olympic skater Keet Oldenbeuving told Olympics.com. “It is definitely a little scary. You don't really know what's going to happen, but, I mean, I guess you can't really do more than try your best. So that's all we all got to do.”

In turn, climbing debuted in 2021, and Tokyo Olympians Kyra Condie and Brooke Raboutou are among those in direct competition for one possible US women’s spot in the combined event, which is made up of the disciplines of bouldering and lead. 48 athletes qualified for both the Shanghai and Budapest competitions in the discipline, as well as 32 climbers in the speed category.

“In Shanghai, we will see a continuation of this real focus of innovation by the IOC, as well as the promotion of Olympic qualifiers,”, McConnell said in a media roundtable. “Each event is an individual journey for each athlete and it’s a great pathway for them and the featured sports. We hope to expand it on the future, including the Winter Games”.