There has never been an Olympic Games quite like this summer’s competition—which still carries the words “Tokyo 2020” in its official name, despite taking place a full year behind schedule. Postponed by and eventually held during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these Olympics have presented an unprecedented set of challenges to athletes from Beijing to Berlin to Dallas, all of whom have been forced to adapt to never-before-seen obstacles and conditions to qualify for the events they’ve trained their whole lives to reach. Not all of them make it, but more than fifty sportsmen and women with ties to Texas will be representing the United States this year, and Texas Monthly has teamed up with June Third Films to tell the stories of four Olympic hopefuls from our state on their journeys from Texas to Tokyo.
Second in the series is Jordan Santana. Throughout the past year, the seventeen-year-old from Houston had been considered one of the favorites to make the three-woman team of riders representing the country in park skateboarding at the Tokyo Games. She placed second at the USA Skateboarding National Championships in May and is one of just a handful of women in the world capable of pulling off a dizzying 540-degree aerial spin—a trick that skating insiders believe could be key to medaling this summer. But later in May, at her final qualifying event in Des Moines, a shaky performance caused Santana to drop out of contention for this year’s Summer Games. But the Olympics’ loss has become the X Games’ gain, with Santana slated to return to action this week at ESPN’s annual extreme sports extravaganza. For Santana, the road to redemption begins Friday at the Women’s skateboard park competition in Southern California—and if all goes according to plan, it will end with her on the medal stand in Paris in 2024.