Japan's Kokona Hiraki won her maiden skateboarding park world championships gold on Sunday and was joined on the podium by her compatriot and fellow 15-year-old Hinano Kusaki who finished second.

Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Hiraki landed a backside flip and scored 94.54 points in the second of her three runs in the final in Rome, edging the 93.20 scored by recent Asian Games gold medalist Kusaki at the event that doubles as the third qualifying event for the Paris Olympics.

Japan's Kokona Hiraki performs in the women's event at the skateboarding park world championships in the suburbs of Rome on Oct. 8, 2023. She won gold. (Kyodo)

Minna Stess of the United States was third with 90.80, while Tokyo Games winner Sakura Yosozumi came last in the eight-woman final on 83.53.

"I'd only finished second and third before so I'm really happy to be the world champion for the first time," said the Hokkaido-born Hiraki.

A snowboarder and surfer when she was younger, Hiraki became attracted to the tricks it is possible to perform on a skateboard -- even if learning them often involves heavy crashes -- and became an Olympic medalist at the age of 12.

Hiraki's rival Sky Brown of Britain, also 15 and the bronze winner at the Tokyo Olympics, missed the event.

"I was determined to try all the tricks I wanted to," Hiraki said. "I could enjoy it without getting as nervous as usual. I'll be aiming for the top spot again if I can make the Paris Olympics team."

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