I recently went along to the opening round of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Manchester. Watching these world-class BMXers compete on my home ground was a real privilege. Such fun too. And seeing the athletes up close got me thinking again about how much we can learn from them. Here’s why we all need to be more like BMXers.
As an extreme sport, BMX racing obviously comes with its risks. The riders train hard in order to mitigate this, but they don’t let worrying about what can go wrong stop them.
I can’t imagine how the women waiting in the starting gate felt watching Saya Sakakibara lying flat on the floor unconscious after she came down in the first semi-final. Sure, they’ve seen this kind of thing before, but it had to be pretty off-putting watching her being stretchered off by the medics. Yet somehow they retained their focus. The buzzer sounded, the barrier crashed to the floor like a guillotine and they went for it.
They are no different from any of us who want to succeed. You have to put yourself out there and accept that failure might hurt – though for BMXers the pain can be physical as well as mental.
Saya will ride again. She may have had to sit out round two of the world championships, but she’s already talking about getting back on her bike. You don’t get to be five times world champion without an element of resilience. That’s the thing with BMXers, they keep trying. As the commentator repeatedly said, those who had not had a great day would refocus and be back on their bikes again in heat two. They’d cut their losses and get straight back in the saddle, hoping for better luck tomorrow.
Getting that Lucky Break
Because as much as BMX is about blood, sweat and tears, there’s also an element of luck involved, as Kye Whyte demonstrated when he crashed out of the semi finals, despite achieving the fastest time in the heats. Less than half an hour later, he was smiling again, supporting his team mates and signing autographs. A day later, he stormed the round two finals and took his first-ever world cup title.
Want to Know More?
Why we all need to be more like BMXers is one of the key themes of my schools and festival author talks. Linked to my own writing journey, this fun, interactive presentation focuses on the similarities between writers and BMXers, encouraging everyone to find the extreme sporting hero within.