In 2009, Heimana Reynolds told his local NBC TV station on Oahu that his goal was to become a professional skateboarder and compete in the Olympics. Eleven years later, Reynolds has risen to the top in park skateboarding and is looking to accomplish that goal in Tokyo when skateboarding makes its Olympic debut.
As part of our preparation for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to a wide range of athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the field of play.
Here’s some of what we found out about Heimana Reynolds:
Tell us about your family.
I have a family of four. My father, Matt, is Hawaiian and Tahitian, and my mother, Samantha, is Philipino and Caucasian. I have a younger sister who is 17, Raiatea. My family is extremely supportive in everything I and my sister are involved in and in the community. We have lived in Hawaii for our entire lives and are deeply connected to our Hawaiian and Tahitian roots and culture. My parents both run the family skate school and skate shop called Proper Rideshop in Honolulu along with my support. My family runs the only indoor skatepark on the island and has been in business for 10 years.
How have your parents influenced your skateboarding career?
My family has been so supportive in my skateboarding career in so many ways. Growing up, my dad would take me surfing and skating, which is where my love of skateboarding grew. My family and I are extremely close. My dad frequently travels with me to the Olympic qualifier and competition events to aid in mentorship and coaching. My family even opened up an indoor skatepark and skate shop. The indoor skatepark doubles as a place to teach kids and a private training facility for myself.
What is your earliest memory of skateboarding?
My earliest memory of skateboarding that really got me motivated was in 2007. I was eight years old and for a little early birthday present my dad got him and I tickets to X Games XIII. While I was there I watched a lot of my heroes like Shaun White, Bucky Lasek, Bob Burnquist, and many more. While watching Shaun’s practice I saw him trying the same run over and over and getting frustrated about not being able to land it. He was able to land it one time before the finals. When it came down to the final event, he put down his entire run that he was working on and ended up winning his first summer X Games gold medal. Seeing his hard work and dedication, and seeing the reward for it all, really motivated me to want to put my head down and work for something like that and see myself at that level one day.
What job do you have outside skateboarding?
I work at Proper Rideshop. It is my family owned business teaching kids how to skateboard. We run camps and clinics and even work with some homeschool programs and use skateboarding as their PE. We also work with programs like A-skate to teach skateboarding to kids with autism.
How has your hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii shaped who you are today?
My hometown has shaped me in every way, shape, and form. At a very young age I got into both surfing and skateboarding and here in Hawaii it’s a perfect breeding ground for those sports. Every day after school I would be at the skatepark till sunset and then jump in the water to surf before dark. On the weekends or vacations I would just go back and forth from the skatepark to the beach. Growing up surfing and skating has also given me the unique, flowy surf skate style you see today in my skating. Here in Hawaii we don't have all the "top of the line" skateparks or ramps, so it really has helped shape me into the skater I am today being able to compete on the best of the best concrete parks.
When was your breakthrough moment?
Funny enough, I never had a real "breakthrough" moment until 2019. I’ve been competing at a pro level since I was about 15 years old, but never really hitting the top three, let alone winning very often. In 2019 with the Olympic qualifying series I won my first major event in China, the second of three events, which really gave me a lot of motivation and realization that I do belong here. It has really humbled me and motivated me to want to be a part of the Olympics.
What’s your favorite workout?
My favorite work out would be rock running. It’s where you go underwater in the ocean -- you can wear a mask, but no scuba tank or anything -- and you get a rock heavy enough that will hold you on the bottom of the ocean. You hold it tight against your chest and walk on the seafloor. That one is really good for mental strength and endurance.
What is something that would surprise people about your training?
People would be surprised that I do a lot of my training in the ocean like rock running or holding my breath through deep underwater caves.
Who is your coach?
My coach is actually my father. He has been at every event since I was young and helps me train in every way he can. Although he isn’t the best skater himself, he is really knowledgeable and knows how to help me learn tricks and put together good lines for contests. I think it’s great having him as my coach in so many ways because our relationship is so tight. We aren't afraid to hold back ideas or feelings about certain things.
What is a big obstacle that you’ve overcome?
A big obstacle that I had to overcome in life would be having the acceptance of skateboarding being my career. It’s pretty hard coming from a small island and wanting to be a big skateboarder. A lot of people see skateboarding as a punky, nobody, hobby for people who vandalize and do drugs. I would always hear, “You’re never going to make it,” or “Find a real job.” I really just made sure I kept my head clean and stayed focus on trying to become the best.
Who is your Olympic role model?
My biggest Olympic role model is Shaun White. He is an amazing competitor that worked extremely hard to get to where he is today. He definitely deserved all of his accomplishments. We have grown close this past year and I can still say his one of my biggest role models.
What advice would you give to a young skateboarder?
I know this may sound a little cliche, but what I always tell the kids that I teach is, "if you love it then stick with it and work hard." Don't ever let someone tell you otherwise. Skateboarding is a beautiful sport that can take you as far as you let it. As long as you keep your head clean and focus on the goals you want to accomplish. It’s not just a stupid wooden toy with wheels.