Mee the fearless six-year-old skateboard star of Fisherman’s Colony

Kamali Moorthy went viral early this year thanks to the greatest name in the sport of skateboarding: Tony Hawk.

Meet Kamali Moorthy, a fearless six-year-old, who is a natural on a skateboard and has fun rolling with the blades She became a social media sensation recently after a champion skater tweeted about her.

CHENNAI: The first thing that hits you is how confident Kamali Moorthy actually is with a skateboard. She is just six but as Atita Verghese says, ‘Kamali is the boss around here’. The comment isn't meant to patronise her, she is just a few centimetres taller than the skateboard she is using. Atita, who is India’s first professional woman skateboarder, knows a bit about the sport that will be figuring at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The ‘here’ in the first paragraph stands for the genteel settings of Mahabalipuram, the beach resort around 50 km south of Chennai. Kamali really is the boss. There are five boys, all in the age-group between 10 and 20, who are skateboarding in a small community skate park, for 20 minutes between 4.40 pm and 5.00 pm on a hot evening. When Kamali arrives from school, the boys greet her in an almost reverential way. She is the star and the boys who use the facility know that.

The six-year-old has always been a star of Fisherman’s Colony but she went viral early this year thanks to the greatest name in the sport of skateboarding: Tony Hawk. “This picture,” he had tweeted to his more than 4mn twitter followers in June this year, “of a girl in India is my new favourite skate shot.” It was Kamali just as she was about to come down a small inclined plane. The picture was taken by Jamie Thomas, who himself is a huge name in professional skateboarding. Thomas, who chanced upon the girl during a vacation in Mahabalipuram, was so impressed by the five-year-old’s skills that he left behind one of his skateboards.

Back to the balmy Thursday evening and Kamali really doesn’t mind the attention, though she doesn’t know it yet. There is a camera crew of three trying to take photos of the skate park but Kamali is just on her board going up and down the ramps on both sides of the structure, built near the sea. Not just any sea, but the Bay of Bengal.

Even as the camera crew click pictures, Kamali falls a few times. Now, skate boarders fall down a lot. It’s almost like an occupational hazard, but it’s different when Kamali falls down. She skateboards without a helmet, without shoes and without kneeguards. No protection. Nada. It’s obviously dangerous and the myriad scar marks on both her legs is a testament to her attitude. “When I fall down, the next thing I do is climb back up on the board and try the trick one more time. If there is blood, I just brush it off,” she laughs. It's obvious she likes the sport. “Summa jolly (super fun)”, she says when asked to describe why she took liked the sport.

Watching a young kid do tricks without supervision is hard to digest but her mom, Suganthi, isn’t worried. “When we start talking about fear everything else disappears. So I am not really worried. She knows no fear. And she does it well.” Her daughter’s weekly time table, no prizes for guessing, is heavily linked to that of the skate park. “On weekdays, it's about two hours of skateboarding. On weekends, it’s morning, evening and night at the skate park,” Suganthi smiles.

Kamali Moorthy
Kamali Moorthy

The 23-year-old Atita, who had come down from Bengaluru, nods her head in agreement whenever Kamali executes a good routine. Strangely enough, that is not her sentiment when the question of skateboarding at the Olympics is put to her.  “It's a strange one to tell you the truth,” she says. “Because I don’t really think it’s an ‘Olympic’ sport. It’s usually been non-conformist at all levels and you have to be conformist at the Olympics whichcomes with its own rules and stuff."  

Well, that’s, a story for another day. Most of the conversation has been about the kid who makes passers-by look like they have gained a pass into a cirque du soleil-style show. “You know what,” Atiti says matter of factly, “she surfs too.”

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The New Indian Express