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Push: Lola Tambling

Photography by Leo Sharp & Dave Swift

As luck would have it, you’ve managed to land this Push interview in the very same issue as your good friend Diggs English. How did you two meet? What have been some of your favourite times spent with Diggs so far?

We met at Wheels and Finns, which was a mini ramp contest in Margate, Kent. It’s a festival, but before I met him, I saw him on Instagram, and I thought he was this steezy kid. I have lots of good memories with Diggs. Sweden was really fun, then we went out to America. Also, at Concrete Chaos, we were hanging out with all of our mates, messing around on Newquay beach, then on the last day, me and Diggs went and watched Kings of Leon with the dads - my dad and his dad - so that was good.

Diggs also mentioned in his interview that you two were in America at the same time. Was it planned beforehand that you would both be out there?

I’m pretty sure our parents planned it. We got on the same flight together, we stayed in a couple of the same hotels, met up loads and went to the same skateparks together. We were with each other a lot when we were out there. I was there for Exposure - which is an all female competition - and STU (Skate Total Urbe) in Rio. Exposure is so lit; I love that comp. It has street, vert and bowl. There were so many girls there from all over the world.

The circling sharks of Saltash watch closely as Lola sends home one final Junkyard wallride, re-entering the ramp via a backside melon. Photo: Leo.

Junkyard meant everything to me. Growing up there was the best; I'm really going to miss it... but everything happens for a readon.

Was that your first trip over to the States?

I’d been out about four or five times before then. I’ve done Exposure in real life three times, and they did an online competition where we had to film video parts, and I did that twice. My first part, I filmed on more unique spots, like fullpipes and cool DIY spots, but I skated more bowls and vert for my second one.

So how do you always get to skate so many DIYs and unique spots? What’s your secret?

My dad. We go hunting for them, and he knows some from when he was younger. He rides BMX, and he used to go with his mates to find them, and now that I’ve grown up and I skate, he takes me to skate them, and it’s cool. Some of them we’ve had to make ourselves, with cement and stuff.

So the first Exposure part was filmed entirely on those spots that your dad knew?

Pretty much all of the first one, I would say. The first one was my favourite; I prefer it to the second one because it’s more me.

Was there anything about skating in America that didn’t live up to expectation?

Hmm... some of the food I was expecting to be better, but all of the skateparks were great. They were either how I pictured them, or even better than I thought. At Washington Street, I didn’t even know about the back section. I got there and I was like, “this park is huge, it’s so gnarly and crusty”, but there’s a bit that’s smooth. It’s still bumpy and hard to get speed, but that’s my type of thing. I love skating stuff that’s not perfect.

What was it like watching the locals at Washington Street?

The locals are so intimidating. I was watching them, starstruck.

Did you talk to any of them?

I did, actually. There was this really nice lady there, and she had a dog and she was inviting us to skate these pools in back gardens. That’s one of my dreams, to skate a back garden pool.

Did you do it?

No. Next time I’m going to do it, though; I’ll hit her up. I’ve kept in touch with her, and she’s sound.

You shot photos whilst you were there with the legendary Dave Swift. How was it shooting with him?

Shooting with Dave is so sick. I have a really good story about taking a photo with him at Poods (skatepark, in Encinitas). So basically, he was taking a photo of me doing a frontside rock n’ roll slide, and the nose of my board hit his camera, and his camera went up into his eye, and I gave him a black eye. He put on his story the next day, “this is my first black eye from taking a photo”. I looked at it, like, “this is so sick, I just gave Dave Swift his first black eye! I’m so proud of myself right now” (laughs). I felt so good. Sorry Dave, I didn’t mean to, but now I get to say that I gave Dave Swift his first black eye.

Martyn Tambling: A Dave Swift NBD.

I replied to his story, like, “oh my God, I’m so sorry!”, I apologised, and he replied saying it was cool, and we joked about it. He’s really sweet, and he always brings this fat, massive speaker with him. He’d bring it to the skatepark and start blasting some heavy metal, some good rock music, and it would get you stoked to skate the pool and grind the shit out of the coping. Oh, and another thing Dave is so rad for is, when you’re skating the pool in the evening, the sun shines through the railings and makes you blind, so he puts up this massive sheet so the sun is blocked out. Big up Dave for doing that. Massive sheet, massive speaker, and he gets the vibes litty. Then one night, Peter Hewitt turned up, my favourite skater of all time!

No sleep ’til St Ives. Cornish loop action at sundown. Photo: Leo.

What was your favourite trick that you saw him do?

Just a frontside stand up grind. I was like, “oh my days, this is rad”.

Did you speak to him?

Yeah (laughs). I did, it was so awkward. I said, “hi, you’re my favourite skater”, acting like a fan girl; it was so embarrassing. I was taking my pads off as he arrived, then I was like, “nah, I’m going to have to skate now”. I started skating, and I got out of the bowl after a run, and he either gave me a high five or knuckles, and I went over to Mum and was like, “Mum, I’m never washing my hands ever again” (laughs). That’s Poods skatepark for you; I love Poods so much.

Did you have any idea how much of a legendary figure Dave was before you met him?

Yeah, I knew who he was. He’s shot with so many legendary people, and I couldn’t believe it when he asked to take some photos of me. The first time I met him, he was so intimidating; scary as. He rocks up to Poods, and no one messes with him, everyone respects him, but once you get to know him, he’s so sweet. Do you know what? He’s actually a sick skater. I love skating the pool with him.

Only a couple of weeks ago, you were out in Sharjah for the World Championships, where you landed yourself 6th place and seemingly broke the internet with your positivity and genuine shock at qualifying. Congratulations on that one! Tell us a bit about how that experience was for you please.

That was an emotional rollercoaster; it was insane. I don’t even know the words to describe it. It was really good. The World Championships was such a good experience for me, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

Your face on the camera when you saw the qualifying result...

I’m not even joking, it’s so funny, they captured a lot of moments of me, where I was crying, then I was dancing... I looked like I was buzzing.

You went through the full spectrum of emotions.

Oh, I did. Because I had to skate in four competitions throughout that week. I did open, quarters, semis and finals.

Backside boneless on the historic Kernow ‘crete of Playing Place. Photo: Leo.

Did you stick to the same run each time, or did you throw in different tricks as you went on?

So basically, in the opens, the run I did got me 11th, but wasn’t the full run I wanted properly, so in the quarters, I pulled the full run and qualified third going into semis. I was like, “what is going on? This is not real”. Then the semis were intense, that was the most nervous of all because I had a real chance of making finals if I could just put my run down. Before my first run in the semis, I was shaking and I think I bailed, but the second run I pulled, then I found out I made it to the finals and I started bawling my eyes out. I was over the moon; I didn’t even know what to think. But I was obviously crying with happiness.

What’s going on in your head when you’re trying to skate in front of so many people?

When they’re all cheering, it gets me hyped. I drop in and I’m so focused, it definitely helps. Anyway, so I made it to the finals and qualified eighth out of eight, so I literally only just made the cut. On finals day, I was so excited. I woke up and I was smiling my head off. I was so stoked, then I just skated and had fun, because it was the finals, but I thought, “I’m still going to go for it”. I ended up in sixth, which was even better. That was the best experience of my life, ever. I’m never going to forget that.

Winding the clock back a bit before entering global events and skating in front of thousands of people, can you tell us about how you first started skateboarding please?

My mum and dad opened a skatepark in Saltash, Cornwall - not Devon - called Junkyard. It was the opening day and I was there, obviously, and I was watching the skateboarders, thinking, “this is so sick; I want to start skateboarding”. I’d have been seven, maybe eight. So I picked up a red Penny board in my Ugg boots and my strawberry cycling helmet, and I started to shred it up, and I looked like an absolute moron... but it’s fine. My dad is a BMXer, and I grew up around that lifestyle, so I was always at skateparks, watching my dad do comps, and going to places with him.

Junkyard sadly closed its doors back in January. How important was the park to you?

Junkyard meant everything to me. Growing up there was the best; I’m going to miss it. It’s really sad that it’s closed, but everything happens for a reason, and I just have to think of the positives, and realise that it’s helped me, and I am who I am because of it. We made so many memories there, and I’ve got to know so many people from there... Junkyard was the best.

Transatlantic back smith, Poods, Encinitas. Shot at a safe distance by Dave Swift.

I didn't mean to, but now I get to say that I gave Dave Swift his first black eye from shooting a photo.

I know it was mentioned earlier that your dad Martyn has a fondness for fixing up spots, all of which he seems keen to share with skateboarders. Which ones have you personally enjoyed skating the most?

I miss the Cereal Bowl so much. That was the one in Saltash, near the main road; you remember, I had the photo doing the front rock on it? It’s that one. So me and Dad went back there to film a handplant 360 for my Exposure part. We had this steep, sketchy wooden roll in to get up to the ramp. It was gnarly as, and I hated dropping in on it because I felt like I was going to slam, but it’s fine. Anyway, we parked up and walked in, and the roll in was missing. As we got closer, we could see that someone had smashed the ramp up, the coping was off, and the ramp was gone. We didn’t even have that spot long, maybe six weeks. I was so disappointed because I wanted to do so much stuff there. Then there was the fullpipe. Me and my dad literally found a fullpipe; it was insane, it was the best fullpipe I’ve ever skated. The first time we went there, there were fat piles of dust everywhere, and we had to take it all out. We had to wear these face masks, because if you breathe in that dust, you’re going to die. We managed to clear it out, we painted it white because it was so rusty, then Leo Sharp, because he’s really tall, he helped us paint the top of the pipe. I stuck some stickers to the side of it, so everyone knows who the OG finders of the spot are. It has this cone bit at the end that you can ride up... the fullpipe is so leng, I’m not even joking.

Diggs explained that he’s allowed time off from school because of his involvement in SBGB, and training towards the Olympics - is that a similar deal for you?

I’m actually homeschooled, and that’s because I’m travelling loads and focused on skating. I can focus more on school and college when I’m older, but I do enjoy being homeschooled.

Looking forward to the rest of 2023, what’s in store for you? I’m assuming your calendar is looking pretty busy at the moment?

Yes, it is looking bare busy. I’ve got comps in Argentina and Rome coming up, I want to go America again, Vert Attack in Sweden... I want to go to Sweden just to skate. I want to live in Sweden; Sweden is one of my favourite places I’ve been to.

Any final words, or anyone you’d like to thank?

I want to thank my mum, dad and brother, because they’re the most supportive people ever. They do everything for me, and I respect them so much. I’m grateful for everything they do.

Follow Lola - @lolatambling

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