Lunenburg skateboarder kicking it up big time


  • <p>PHOTOS BY JACEE JUHASZ (action) and DAN MATHIEU (profile)</p><p>Lunenburg&#8217;s Johnny Purcell is on a quest to make the Paris 2024 Olympics.</p>
  • <p>PHOTOS BY JACEE JUHASZ (action) and DAN MATHIEU (profile)</p><p>Lunenburg&#8217;s Johnny Purcell is on a quest to make the Paris 2024 Olympics.</p>

LUNENBURG – How does he do that?

If you have watched the X-Games, for example, or any other competition on TV or even at your local skatepark, for non-skateboarders it's really hard to fathom some of the tricks, like a switch-backside-lipslide Lunenburg's Johnny Purcell enjoys performing.

The 27-year-old makes it look easy, especially with 20 years of practice and competition under his belt.

If you google his name you can see plenty of YouTube videos of him performing some crazy tricks.

A member of Team Canada since 2021 he is ranked 47th, with a few more points' competitions to go, in the Olympic world skateboarding rankings and fourth in Canada for males.

Is he living his best life right now?

"I like to think that any moment in time that I'm living my best life. It's good. I work Monday to Friday at my job and I always make time for skateboarding or going to the gym. It's a good life," he said from his home in Halifax.

Purcell is the son of Kathy Kelly and Anthony Purcell of Lunenburg.

He attended Lunenburg Academy from Primary to Grade 5 before moving over to the Lunenburg Junior High before it closed, then it was off to Centre, then Park View Education Centre, graduating in 2014.

He was drawn into skateboarding when he was about seven years of age.

"My mom got me a skateboard from Zellers or Walmart and brought it home as a toy," he said. "You know, something to put in the hands of an energetic young boy to give him something to put his energy toward."

He was sold on skating from that day forward and although he played other sports, spending time at the local skateboard park became a priority.

He gave credit to the founders of the park and was able to be a part of the planning for renovations done about seven or eight years ago and he will be involved in some further upgrades happening this summer.

After graduating high school he moved to Montreal and attended Concordia University where the earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree before moving ahead and taking computer science.

He returned to his home province at the start of the pandemic and now works as a software engineer in Halifax.

Skateboarding has been a big part of his life and credits his parents for being great support and he noted that his mother was a physician and resident caretaker.

His first sponsor in his career came on board at the early age of 13 and several more have been added since then such as Vans, Billy Hill (clothing), Alien Workshop (deck), Sml Wheels (wheels), Guru Energy, Empire and Ace Trucks (metal parts).

At age 16 began travelling "to compete and to film and shoot photos and video, which is, besides competition, would be the other aspect of skating which is really important."

He said thanks to the sponsorships and being a part of Team Canada, he has been able to travel around the world to places where he may not have ever went, such as Israel, Dubai and across Europe.

Right now, he is in the midst of trying to do well in the circuit that he is in now to try and qualify for the Olympics. Each competition in the series is worth point and the top point-getters will represent Team Canada. He is unsure of what place he would have to land in to earn a berth.

"I'm kind of just going, taking each event as it is and trying to do my best and get better each time," he said.

He was recently in Rome for the opening event for the series, Dubai most recently and the next event is in Rome in June.

"Hopefully, I can take what I've learned and improve myself for Rome," he said. "The Olympics is a big goal at this point."

As a warm-up competition he is headed to Phoenix at the end of March for the Phoenix Am competition.

Passing on some advice, he says the number one priority for pre-teen skateboarders wish to succeed is "Be nice to your mom and dad. They are probably the ones buying your gear. The second point, although it may be cliché, have fun. As a 12-year-old I wasn't thinking about getting sponsors or being competitive. It was just about learning the next trick, skateboarding with friends and filming each other.

"Three, if you are serious do what you can do to be healthy."

Why does he like skateboarding so much?

"It's evolved over the years. When I was younger, I think knowing that it was hard and being challenged drew me into it," he said. "Then when you figure it out, it's a fun feeling because you're going fast, your rolling, you have great camaraderie with fellow skateboarders."

Watch for another video coming out soon through Thrasher magazine.

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