Doing skateboarding tricks is an achievement in itself, but how about doing them without being able to see where you are going?
Well, that’s exactly what Japanese skateboarder Ryusei Ouchi did, achieving the most skateboard ollies in one minute blindfolded and the most consecutive skateboard ollies blindfolded.
Ryusei suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, where you lose your eyesight as the disease progresses. He has now lost 95% of his vision and is almost completely blind.
The stage for Ryusei’s record attempt was an indoor skateboard park SKiP FACTORY in Saitama, the city where he currently resides.
At one end of the skate park, Ryusei was getting himself warmed up. In his hand he held a white cane to let him navigate the park.
Ryusei was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when he was in primary school. But his first interaction with skateboarding came when he was 14. His eyesight, though far from perfect, was still intact then.
"I went to my friend’s place, and he had a skateboard. And since we had nothing to do, we decided to give it a go."
"It then took only 10 minutes for me to get totally hooked. Not a love at first sight but a love at first ride."
From there, he worked for days and months learning new tricks, picking up cuts and bruises along the way. A few years later, however, his eyesight started to deteriorate.
"The more you lose your sight, the more you lose tricks. All the tricks you worked so hard to get are gone... only because you cannot see."
Despite this, and despite his parents being against skateboarding (Ryusei understands that his parents were only concerned about his safety), he didn’t quit. Even if his parents wouldn’t purchase a skateboard, he collected parts from his friends and put together his own DIY skateboard.
Plus, Ryusei was surprisingly laid back about his condition.
"I can’t change the fact that I’ve got an illness, so I thought I’m just going to have to live with it."
During his warmup, Ryusei seemed quite relaxed. Even when he fell off the skateboard, he laughed as though he even enjoys the falls.
Ryusei strained his back a few days prior to the attempt, but, despite being in less optimal condition, managed to break the record for the most skateboard ollies in one minute blindfolded, doing 33 in total.
Ryusei says that an ollie is a fundamental trick to learn, and one that beginners usually start out with. Doing the trick multiple times is a different business altogether, however.
"I was already gasping for breath less than 30 seconds in. I couldn’t help but laugh because I wasn’t even halfway. I didn’t know how many times I managed, but all I know is that my legs are so stiff right now."
While there are record categories designed for those with visual impairments, Ryusei instead opted for a standard, blindfolded record title.
"I mean, I could have chosen a trick that not many people can do, but that didn’t feel right. Rather, I want to do sessions with someone out there that I don’t even know the name of, through Guinness World Record titles."
"I want to share and connect with someone through the record. It would be great if people see my record and say, 'I want to try this' or 'I will break this record.' But if anyone breaks my record, I’ll claim it back."
After a short break, he went on to attempt the most consecutive skateboard ollies blindfolded. This is a physically strenuous attempt: Ryusei was on the skateboard for nearly 20 minutes! The result? A staggering figure of 142 ollies.
Having achieved two challenging records using a basic skateboard trick, Ryusei hopes his achievement will be an impression on many.
"I want everyone – whether it be ballerinas, skaters, rappers, dancers, baseball players, football players, businesspeople – to see what I have done.
And if that makes them want to get up and do something they really want to do, then that’s awesome."
As for me, everyone told me I was mad to continue skateboarding when my eyesight was going. Even my parents didn’t support me back then. But I kept going simply because I really wanted to."
"What I want to say is that if you have something you want to do, then you should do it. No excuses. Many people think up reasons for giving up. But I’d say: if you have time to waste thinking of reasons for quitting, think about how you can achieve it. Keep thinking hard about how you can fulfill your desire to do what you want. I hope my work will make more people realize that."