in , ,

World Record Pro Skateboarder Jean-marc Johannes is More Than a Champ

Getting to Know the Cape Flats Multiple World Record Holder Pro Skateboarder Jean-marc Johannes, South Africa’s Highest Achieving International Medalist

Jean-marc Johannes holding up the Guinness World Records 2024 book in which his name appears - Image: @jeanmarcskate on Instagram

This is not just ‘yet another story’ about Jean-marc Johannes, South Africa’s highest achieving International Skateboarder and Multiple World Record Holder who is preparing for the possibility that he may be included to represent SA at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France. This is not simply to share a list with all of his great achievements. I am hoping that even those who have little to no interest in the sport of Skateboarding will find inspiration in the positivity and dedication this remarkable human continually and consistently exudes.

For me, getting to the point of writing about Jean-marc, or JM as many of his friends call him, took a little longer than it takes for most of the people and topics I write about.
Having followed him on social media for the past few years, sharing some of his videos and pics to the Facebook Page and to my own personal pages, we eventually started having chats and calls with each other.
Each conversation I’ve had with Jean-marc Johannes exposed new and interesting layers to the story, the views, and the approach to life of this remarkable person. Eventually we ended up doing an actual interview, and even then it took me a bit more time to write this.

Facing A Different Set of Odds

When someone from the Cape Flats has accomplished so many amazing achievements people often use the term “against all odds” but then they are almost always specifically referring to the social ills that the Cape Flats is plagued with.
In Jean-marc’s case, we are not saying that he did not also, like most kids growing up on the Cape Flats, have to navigate some of the societal pressures that young Coloured boys face. However, in terms of sports, there were other odds that were stacked against him which were much higher.
Learning to deal with those odds turned out to work very well in his favour.

We once had an interesting conversation about him growing up in a family that has more than its fair share of sports stars and record-holders. However growing up as an asthmatic, he had to reconcile himself with the idea that he would not become a sportsperson, let alone a champion and a world record-holder.
Even more interestingly Jean-marc revealed that his battles with illness ended up giving him a mental advantage in terms of competitiveness.

“I grew up struggling to cope with being asthmatic. It affected me on a physical level and that translated into decreased levels of motivation. I eventually got to a point that I knew if I was to become better, I was going to have to start by being mentally strong and disciplined. This is something I had to learn at a very early age and naturally, this became a routine approach to every other part of my life, so when it was time to be mentally strong in sport, I had already developed my own way of thinking that was practiced over many years.”

Jean-marc Johannes skating at a skate park – Image Supplied

From Having Fun on a Board to Turning Pro

It was around the year 2000 when Jean-marc was about 9 years old that the Skateboarding bug bit him. “When I was in school, I often saw kids riding around on boards after school and I was immediately drawn to it. That was at the age of 9 years old.”
“Naturally I went home to ask my parents for a board. When I did that, my parents handed over their skateboard; a previously used one.”

“I would join my friends on some weekends going to a skate park in another area to watch others and learn. One day there was a contest held at the park, an open event and a few friends put my name down to compete. It was funny because I knew nothing about competitive Skateboarding so I went along with it for fun.”
“At the end of the contest I was called up as the winner, I was 11 years old.”

At the time competing was just an outlet in something he realised he was really good at, but there was nothing much that indicated that it is a serious competitive sport that could be turned into a career.
“At the time, there were no clubs I could join, no systems to my knowledge and there were no skate parks while I was growing up in Athlone.”
Jean-marc steadily started raking in the accolades as an amateur competitor and in 2016 he realised that for him, Skateboarding could be a viable professional career option.
“I realised it when I started competing internationally and won the first international gold at the World Series in 2016. Although the goal was to always pursue it as a career, there was a certain way in which it came about, steps I needed to take, lessons I needed to learn and there was no easy way or shortcut.”

In 2016 Jean-marc Johannes was the first South African to win a gold medal at the FISE World Series.

With all the many competitions that Jean-marc has won, we asked which one he feels was the most prestigious of them all.
“I’ve won SA’s first Gold, Silver and Bronze positions in International Skateboarding events as well as broken World Records, but if there is one event that I hold over others, that would definitely be winning the FISE World Series event in China in 2016. I was invited to the event and funded my own way to compete.”

Nowadays, as a professional Skateboarder, Jean-marc travels the world, has a long list of local and international titles including having his name memorialised in the Guinness Book of Records no less than eight times.
“Of the eight world records I’ve set or broken, personally I’d say that the most difficult was breaking the record for the most Nollie Heelflips in one minute.”
Instead of a long explanation of what a Nollie Heelflip is, you can watch Jean-marc set a new world records for Nollies in 2018.

WATCH 18 for 2018 Jean-marc Johanne Sets New Nollie Heelflip Guinness World Record

Skateboarding Glides Into the Olympics

For any sporting code to be permanently added to the Olympics, aside from obviously having to comply with certain criteria, that sport has to be an Olympic Event for three consecutive Olympic Games. The first time that Skateboarding appeared at an Olympic Event was at the 2020 Olympics in Japan which due to the worldwide pandemic ended up being held in 2021.

Olympic Skateboarding makes its next appearance at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France, and is already on the roster for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, USA.
That means that after 2028 Skateboarding will have permanent status at the Olympics.


Although South Africa was represented in Skateboarding at the 2020 Olympics held in 2021, Jean-marc was unfortunately not part of the team.
Now he is looking forward to the possibility that he could be representing South Africa this year, 2024, at what is one of the biggest sports events in the world.

We discussed whether there could possibly be similarities drawn to the judging systems of other Olympic Sports like Artistic Gymnastics, Figure Skating or Breaking due to the fact that Skateboarding is also very much an artistic expression.
“Though I’m not sure as to the exact judging criteria for the other sports, I would imagine there would be similarities. In terms of the criteria; in terms of difficulty; time based performances; styles and specific moves used; as in Skateboarding, it’s certain tricks that are landed within the specific time frame.”

Currently in the position of being South Africa’s most internationally awarded Skateboarder, having reached the podium in the last 10 of his international competitions, in my personal opinion, it would be a travesty if Jean-marc is not included in SA’s 2024 Olympic squad.

South Africa’s Highest Achieving Skateboarder Jean-marc Johannes in action – Image Supplied

From a Recreational Activity to a Codified Sport

In some less privileged areas on the Cape Flats and also across the country we see kids skate and doing tricks in normal public play parks or in parking lots, sometimes with makeshift ramps, so the general public tends to see it as an informal sport that’s not codified.
After all, the first time that I heard that South Arica has world class pro skateboarders competing internationally was when Jean-marc was interviewed on the DJ Ready D Show. Until then in my mind and it’s probably still the case in most people’s minds, Skateboarding is something kids do for recreation.

“Yeah, I did exactly that for many years in areas of Athlone and Gatesville and I’ve grown to understand that it’s seen as a recreational activity. However, the competitive side of Skateboarding is becoming more visible to the public with events such as Ultimate X and international events such as X Games and Street League. With that being said it is being seen more and more as an actual sport.”

Jean-marc Johannes with Deon Daniels aka DJ Ready D at the Goodhope FM studios – Image Suppled

Jean-marc aims to grow his involvement in creating awareness of the sport among young skateboarders.
“There is a lot being done already through our current clubs. Creating awareness of access to facilities that help skaters progress to international levels is very important along with a fair structure for all.”
With it being recognised as an Olympic sport, Jean-marc says that he is hopeful that “sporting bodies in SA will work towards growing Skateboarding to great new heights.”
“When I someday reach the point that I can no longer competitively participate in the sport, I would like to continue being part of the industry and be instrumental towards the progression of Skateboarding in South Africa. I want to help others achieve their dreams, whether it be locally or internationally.”
To this purpose Jean-marc has already achieved a tertiary qualification in Sports Management and is currently studying towards a degree in Marketing Management.

The Champion Skateboarder understands that when dealing with young sports people, not all of them are destined to become champions and turn their sport into a lucrative professional career.
That does not mean their sport will not benefit them and help shape their lives.
For those kids who are competing as amateurs and have hopes of becoming a professional, aside from the technical side of the sport and telling them to practice relentlessly, Jean-marc has some sage advice about how they can better themselves in their sport and holistically in their lives.

“Never lose sight of your goals; the ones you’ve set for yourself, and not only the ones you were told you’re capable of achieving. No matter how big or small the goal is, try to do something consistently in some way that is significant towards it.”
“If you have a specific dream of where you want to be, don’t stop pursuing this path. Over time it’s important to understand the difference between advice and opinions that can throw you off this path.”

“Always try to seek out opportunities to grow in skill and personally because the true potential of what you’re capable of does not come from situations where it’s easy to win.”
“Take your time; pace yourself in taking the high road and avoid instant gratification on your path because there are lessons meant to be learnt that were only meant for you to learn, because it’s all part of reaching the goal you set for yourself.”

WATCH Jean-marc Johannes Skating into 3rd Place at FISE World Series Montpellier 2023

Congeniality Balanced with Discipline & Dedication

For obvious reasons young people building a career in sport or the creative arts need to equip themselves with other skills even while their sport or creative art is their main focus.
In that aspect Jean-marc could be considered to be an over-achiever.

“In the beginning, Skateboarding was my way of expressing creativity and imagination and it still is to this day. Before I realised there was more to it than I thought, Skateboarding helped me pursue a lot of other avenues in my life such as art and music, which I achieved while still at school.”
“To this day It continues to help me realise my strengths in other areas which I am also pursuing; from a graduating with a National Diploma in Sports Management and now currently completing my B.Com in Marketing Management.

Almost without fail, Jean-marc practices his Skateboarding for at least two hours a day, and between all his other commitments, he also has to make time to study towards his degree. Yet, he makes it all look very easy.
“In terms of daily routine, it’s very simple. Aside from practicing, I dedicate a certain amount of hours each day to my studies, focus on my social media platforms and content creation as well as aligning myself with upcoming campaigns and projects with supporting brands.”

For Jean-marc Johannes a big part of promoting his professional skateboarding career is creating amazing social media content like this – Image Supplied

Whenever we speak Jean-marc always come across as being very grounded, and I wanted to know to what or whose influence he attributes that to.
“A lot of who I am and the discipline I have has come from skateboarding. I also look up to athletes with such grounded attributes such as Lionel Messi, LeBron James and others.

Of course Jean-marc, who recently married his high school sweetheart, like everybody else, makes times to do ‘normal people’ things.
“I really enjoy seeing new places with my wife Roxanne, not necessarily internationally but within Cape Town and South Africa.”
“Of all the places I’ve travelled to around the world; even though Switzerland is my favourite in terms of their people, and Indonesia has the best food, Cape Town still has the most beautiful sights.”
Though he loves Indonesian food on an international level, Jean-marc says he also still loves the food we have here at home, with his top favourite being Fish and Chips, and of course a lekke gebba so once in a while. “In fact, a few weeks ago I had a nice Masala Steak Gatsby from Aneesa’s.”

Jean-marc and Roxanne have come a long way since they first met while they both attended Windsor High School and they have been together for 16 years leading up to their recent marriage.
Jean-marc says that Roxanne deserves much of the credit for the way his life and his career has turned out to be. “My wife is the reason I am who I am today. All the motivation, love and support has been the foundation of it all.”
He beams with pride telling me that Roxanne has recently graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Social Science (Psychology).
“This was one of her goals and I’m so proud of her. She’s also very talented in E-Sports and I look forward to seeing her explore this further too.”

Jean-marc Johannes is More Than a Champ

It is seldom that one meets someone who has such an easy-going personality and yet when you scratch just slightly below the surface, you find them to be extremely disciplined, dedicated to everything they pursue and have a strong sense purpose.
Jean-marc is someone we all can learn a lot from and someone who more of the young people in our communities should be holding up as a role model.
He has not only brought so much awareness to Skateboarding as Professional Sport in South Africa, and especially on the Cape Flats where he is from, but it’s really cool that he exemplifies the possibility that being disciplined, dedicated and serious about one’s education does not have to come in a package that’s marked ‘boring’.
Our very own Cape Flats World Class Pro Skateboarder Jean-marc Johannes is More Than a Champ!

Skate along with Jean-marc Johannes on his Facebook Page & Follow @jeanmarcskate on Instagram

Okay… I said it was not just going to be about Jean-marc’s remarkable list of achievements, and it still isn’t, but here are some of it anyway.

Africa Youth Sports Athlete of The Year 2023 winner.

FISE Digital Open Series (1st Place)

FISE World Am China (Gold & Silver)

ProJam International Open Indonesia (Bronze)

FISE Montpellier Am (Bronze)

FISE Freestyle Tour Switzerland (Bronze and 1st place Best trick)

Top 10 Road to X Games Qualifier.

Kardo International Open (Bronze)

Extreme Video Contest (Indonesia) Gold.

Mail & Guardian Top 200 Sports winner (2021)

Western Cape Sports Chairman’s Sports Award 2018.

Multiple Guinness World Records Holder (2016 to 2024)

What do you think?

Written by Ryan Swano

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Confirmed: House of The Dragon Season 2 Starts 17 June 2024

La RicMal Wines Shine at ProWein Germany Global Trade Fair