BERKLEY, Mass. (WPRI) — Aiden Wu loves to roller skate.
“It’s calming,” Wu said. “I like having a sport where I can just be myself.”
So much so, in fact, that the fourth grader at Berkley Community School hopes to one day become a world champion.
It all started when he was invited to a birthday party nearly three years ago.
“I was actually pretty good at it,” Wu recalled. “I went up to my aunt and told her, ‘I was born for this.'”
“I knew I wanted to do this for awhile,” he added.
Even though Wu hasn’t been roller-skating for long, he’s already racked up his fair share of national and regional medals.
Wu said roller-skating isn’t easy, adding that it took him quite some time to master it.
“It’s difficult when you’re starting out,” he explained. “But once you get more advanced, going forwards and backwards gets easier.”
Despite the skill needed, the International Olympic Committee recently decided that roller-skating is not an Olympic sport.
But Wu disagrees.
“I think this should be an Olympic sport,” he said. “It’s basically ice skating and ice skating is an Olympic sport. Roller-skating is essentially ice skating with heavier skates on.”
When asked how much roller skates weigh, Wu said about 5 pounds.
“Ice skates only support one metal blade on the bottom,” he explained. “Roller skates have a metal plate and the wheels.”
Roller-skating isn’t just for kids. Wu’s coach, five-time world and seven-time national roller-skating champion Scott Cohen, first learned to skate 50 years ago.
“My mom brought me to a rink one day and, as she explains it, once the skates were on my feet I took to it like a duck to water,” Cohen said. “I never looked back.”
Cohen described the sport as a “life-shaping” experience.
“You can be really be yourself and you can find someone else who is a little bit like yourself,” Cohen explained. “It’s a great place to fit in with a wide variety of characters.”
“I always say that everything I have in my life, all of the good, is because of roller-skating,” he continued. “All of those years of practice I put in and all of the traveling I did … it is what made me who I am today for sure.”
When asked what he would tell those who believe the sport “died” a long time ago, Cohen’s message was simple.
“Roller-skating is never going to die,” he said. “It’s always going to be around. I think I’d say, ‘Well, let’s put a pair of skates on and see how you like it’ … I’ll convince you it’s not dead.”
Wu will be competing in the USA Roller Sports National Championship next month. His goal is to be outdo Cohen and become a six-time world champion.