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Thai street kid skate champ 'Oat' sows seeds for Tokyo tilt

By Agency

From runaway street urchin eating out of a trash can to Thai national skateboard champion, "Oat" Athiwat is a graduate of life's school of hard knocks.
But the 24-year-old, abandoned by his parents at a young age and beaten by relatives, is daring to dream about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after a promising fourth place finish at the Asian Games in Jakarta.
Oat never knew his mother and his father left him to pursue a monk's life in a monastery.
At the tender age of eight, he shuffled around between different relatives living in Suphanburi, a city a couple of hours from Bangkok.
Often the victim of violence by those looking after him, he would sleep rough on the street, permanently feeling hungry and with nowhere to turn.
"I used to eat anything I could find, even gum on the floor or the leftovers I found in the trash bin," Oat told AFP, his voice faltering as he wipes a tear from his cheek.
"I didn't have any friends."
Oat's way out of poverty came when a university student showed him some skateboarding tricks one day and he became instantly hooked.
"I felt I could be a real skateboarder," he said. "When I mastered new tricks, I would go to sleep with good dreams."
A happy twist of fate saw the Thai national team train occasionally in Suphanburi.
Impressed by the boy's dedication, they brought a skateboard for him on their next visit as part of their outreach project.