Jean-Marc Johannes: Cape Town Skateboarder, grabbed our attention with unique origin story and now takes us on an adventure of a lifetime with a trip to the Olympics Tokyo 2020. South Africa’s skateboarding record breaker is strikingly unorthodox, talented and innovative, racking up accomplishments all the while displaying a work ethic and revolutionary view to skate boarder as professional athlete.
With not only one, but two awe inducing Guinness World Records to his name, Jean-Marc can proudly claim as having achieved the most Nollie Heel Flips in one minute (record broken for 2 consecutive years) and the most Fakie Heel Flips in one minute (completed in 2019), originally held by Rob Dyrdek in 2006 and the first SA international Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for competitive skateboarding.
Blazing through an international calendar of competitions, Jean-Marc has just been to Los Angeles to compete in the “Street League Skateboarding Competition” in July. He follows up by competing again in the “SLS” in Brazil from the 16th to the 22nd September and then on to Cheng Du, China to compete on the 30th September. This year has been fundamental in accumulating points globally whilst crafting an inspirational story of a boy from the Capeflats in Cape Town’s journey to the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. February 2020 sees the qualifiers announced, with a hopeful participation in a first for skate boarding as a recognized sport in the Olympics.
But South African Olympic hopefuls do not simply occur overnight. Jean-Marc’s adventure began at the age of 9, trying to join team sports at school, he instead discovered an activity he describes as “being so free”. Winning his first competitive event at the age of 12, a Pro-Am contest held in Cape Town, Jean-Marc acknowledged the sense of accomplishment, making him realise there was so much to the sport. This seemingly life-altering moment would lead him to generate a repertoire of ground-breaking stunts including being the first skater in the world to complete an Ollie jump between shipping containers suspended 10 metres in the air, pushing the limits by landing the biggest canal jump and jumping over a Dakar rally build mini cooper. His natural ability combined with a composite skill, sees Jean-Marc take technical skateboarding and infuse his particular discipline that of “Street” with a melding of dexterity, absolute concentration and fearlessness.
South Africa’s Gold, Silver and Bronze medal winner for international skateboarding and FISE World Series Am number one skateboarder is ever mindful of his capacity to inspire and influence. Jean-Marc’s charity initiative “Fill the Gap” reaches out to other younger outliers and underprivileged youth with an interest in skateboarding. It provides second-hand skateboards and gear, advocates and promotes skateboarding as a sport at schools locally and abroad.
As one of the top 100 athletes in the world, Jean-Marc has all the makings of a future sporting icon, displaying all the traits of success: discipline, focus, talent and charisma. We will be keeping an eye on him in the coming months as Jean-Marc takes our hopes to the Olympics in 2020.