Three Tauranga residents have come up just short of naming the giant skateboard that is now touring the nation to promote the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.
The 800kg skateboard will traverse Aotearoa as part of the Great Olympic Skate Roadshow with three stops in the Bay of Plenty scheduled as part of the journey.
The 12-metre-long board will head to Mount Maunganui on May 18 before heading to Rotorua the following day. The BOP visit ends with a trip to Whakatane/Ohope on May 20.
The board has now been named, given the moniker ‘Eke Tahi’, meaning ‘Ride as One’ as announced at the launch of the roadshow in Kaikohe this week.
Nearly 1,000 Kiwis entered names for the super-sized skateboard representing the Olympic Games offering more extreme, more urban and more youth-focused events, including skateboarding, surfing and three-on-three basketball.
Karyn Fisher of Maraetai, Auckland, was selected as providing the name which best captured the pride of Kiwis and excitement for the hopes of the New Zealand athletes being carried by the giant skateboard.
But three entrants from Tauranga all came a close second as joint runner-ups.
‘Oly’ was the nomination from Joel Crump, ‘Ralph’ was submitted by Rebecca Merriman and ‘Blake’s Board’ by Natasha Dalley rounded out the close competition.
The name ‘Ralph’ honours Kiwi skateboarding legend Lee Ralph, while ‘Blake’s Board’ honours the life of 13-year-old Blake Dalley, who was passionate about skateboarding.
Olympic gold medalist Barbara Kendall led a panel of Olympians to decide the winning name, including Olympic shot putter Maddison-Lee Wesche, Olympic canoe slalom athlete Finn Butcher and president of Skateboarding New Zealand Chris Curran.
The judges were blown away by the entries, with Kendall saying Kiwis were incredibly thoughtful and creative in how they linked the super-sized skateboard with Aotearoa.
“The Great Olympic Skate is all about having fun while backing our athletes – and being typically innovative as we Kiwis tend to be,” Kendall says.
“’Eke Tahi’ is such a beautiful name with a wonderful message for our athletes. We can’t wait to see Kiwis coming out to meet Eke Tahi, making this record-breaking skateboard a moment in our country’s history before the games have even begun.”
Karyn Fisher was inspired to call the skateboard ‘Eke Tahi’ after seeing the challenges faced by the athletes in a year of disruptions.
“Athletes are athletes because they don’t give up,” she says.
“I’m so excited to see New Zealand come together to support our athletes and recognise their hard work.
“My daughter, Kirsten Fisher-Marsters, is hoping to compete in Tokyo as a swimmer for the Cook Islands. She has previously represented the islands at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018 and I see the dedication that she and her fellow athletes put into their sports.
“For me, ‘Eke Tahi’ is a symbol of us all coming together as one.”
‘Eke Tahi’ will now tour the country for the Great Olympic Skate Roadshow over 41 days, bringing with it a range of sports activities, surfboards to sign with messages of support for athletes in Tokyo, and surprise Olympians.