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An Aussie Skater in Shanghai

1 September 2007
 

Jiangwan Skate Park

Skateboarding in Australia, particularly in coastal regions with numerous beaches like NSW and Queensland, is very popular. But in China, the appearance of this kind of extreme sports is a new phenomenon. Therefore it is not accidental, that so far the biggest skateboard park in China is designed by Aussies, and one of China’s top ten skaters is from Australia.

The new skate park is situated in Shanghai’s Jiangwan Wujiaochang (江湾五角场) in Yangpu district (杨浦区) near famous Fudan (复旦) and Tongji (同济) universities, where a round interjection branches out in five directions. And that top skater from Crocodile Dendy’s homeland in Queensland is 21-year old George Jackson.

George does not have a heartthrob appearance like that of Mel Gipson, nor has he won any titles on the world stage like Ian Thorpe. But he has secured more Chinese fans than that most Aussies can probably only dream of, and in the eyes of his young followers, many of them are the kids with parents from villages looking for manual jobs in Shanghai, he’s not a lesser kung fu hero than Jackie Chan or Jet Lee.

“I used to be a porter back in Australia, so I’m actually in the same league as their parents,” George said to the local journalists while being interviewed. And he is tremendously pound of his students whose progress in learning to skate is, in his words, utterly breathtaking. “Li is now able to take on the vert ramp, No. 1 小朋友 (little friend, the common way to address kids in modern Chinese society),” he praised effusively his favourite disciple in his Enghinese (opposite to Chinglish).

In the skate park, almost everyone knows this happy Aussie fella. If you ask who is the best skater here, for instance, a piper worker called Old Li would point at that awesome Aussie figure flying in mid-air. Old Li is not young, but he’s no smaller fan of George. After he has finished his work, he would often come and sit watching George soaring, turning, and plunging.

Although a hero in his disciples’ eyes, and a top skater in everyone else’s opinion, George is neither a flawless superman, nor a smart businessman. He sometimes gets himself injured, and has never been able to earn more than 500 AUD a month. When he is laughed at for being a poor migrant in China, he is only too thrilled. “I can make money while having fun, and have so many Chinese friends, what a life!”

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