U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM MEDIA SUMMIT: Quotes from BMX Cycling Press Conference Wednesday, April 16

April 16, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
Press Conference Quotes Wednesday, April 16 9:00 - 10:00 am BMX Cycling Participants: Kyle Bennett (KB) Mike Day (MD) Kim Hayashi (KH) Jill Kintner (JK) Donny Robinson (DR) Quotes: Q: Jill, how did you make the decision to return to BMX' JK: Well, it kind of took a bit of convincing. I was really happy with the mountain bike. I did BMX until 2005 since 2002. I was ready for a change. As the Olympics came into the picture, I know I'm still experienced to be competitive... I think it says a lot. I wanted to pave the way for others, see if I could do it. I don't know, it is one of those things that when the opportunity comes up you can't really pass it up. Q: What are your characteristics that draw you to the sport' DR: I guess I will start off with this. BMXers are a rare breed. I think a lot of people associate BMX with a wild child image and with kids that go their own way. But I think BMX racing athletes are kind of an anomaly in this scene. You know, our whole lives are spent training and really focus on what our ultimate goals are. Obviously, in this situation, it is an Olympic gold medal. But I think we have a responsibility, not only to ourselves to perform, but to be role models, especially to the kids and to the parents. This is our chance to really bring the sport to the world and kind of give kids and parents another avenue to really express themselves. Because not everyone likes to play baseball, football and BMX racing is another way to involve kids in a healthy activity and something that has obviously made our lives so much better. They do associate BMX racing and action sport athletes with snowboarding... We have an amazing opportunity coming up. We are going to show the world we are great people and great athletes at the same time. JK: Like most kids you start out riding your bike for fun. You know, it is something any kid can do and is accessible for so many people... Racing is a different breed. Kids are really competitive. There is so much adaptability, all these different skills. And I think you are seeing a change because there are so many different steps to get better. I don't know, it is just never a boring thing. As it gets more competitive it becomes addictive. We all love to do it. (It) brings the challenge within ourselves. (It's) something we have grown into. It is not just, oh we are crazy. (We) started as kids, and it progressed to where it is now. That is the type of people we are. Q: Can you talk about strategy' KB: As far as just preparation for the race, through the week getting ready it is planning out my training. I know if I am mentally prepared, you know physically, I will perform at my best... As when I am at the race, when I am behind the gate getting ready to do the Motos, it is more or less just letting it kind of fall into place, taking it as it come. And once I get towards the semis I kind of work my way into it; and the finals, that is when I let it all out. That is kind of my style. Q: Are you friends' Do you train together' KH: My best friend and I, we compete together and live together, along with Jill. We are all competitive on the track, but when it comes to just hanging out, we are all just friends. We all get along really well. We see these guys all the time so we are all friends. As far as training, we kind of do it ourselves like when we go to the gym. We do all that by ourselves. When it comes to riding the track, we get more out of riding together... It pushes us to do things on the track that we wouldn't do by ourselves. I think we all have that separation, that line of we are friends off the track and we are competitors on the track. JK: You would never have thought that your competitors would be 10 feet away next to you, sleeping, breathing. Everybody is pretty mature... We are all pushing each other to get better. And we are a team...We are not going to work against each other. It is definitely an experience. It brings people together that wouldn't normally live together in many normal situations. Q: What are the physical attributes to being a good biker' KH: There is a lot that goes into being a BMX racer... Power, definitely explosion. It is a straight sprint for about 40-50 seconds. You have to have that stamina in your legs to be able to push all the way. BMX athletes are an all-around type of athlete. You also have to have the mental capabilities; you have to be able to jump a double hitting at maybe 28 miles per hour that is about 20 feet long. You are getting so high in the air it is really, really scary. I think BMXers are all-around athletes. I played softball in high school. There is a lot of difference to the aspects of being a softball player, because of the whole extreme idea of it. DR: Kind of what I grew up knowing from the previous BMXers as that the big guy, the biggest is going to be the strongest and the most successful. I am sure Kim had the same problem too. We are the smallest riders in both classes. I had been told you are not going to make it because you are so small. If they are 50 pounds heavier than you, they are going to push you around. It has kind of changed over the years what the ideal BMX racer should be. The person that works the hardest, that has the most heart, gets the job done. Q: Has the Olympics changed the culture of biking' MD: There has definitely been an increase in publicity and national federations that are stepping up. Without the Olympic track built, that would never ever been made possible. By far everyone is super into it. All of the resources are being made available. KH: BMX is an intense kind of sport. You are on the track and you are going at it against each other full contact. You can go in a turn and never know what is going to hit you, what is coming at you. But I think with the Olympics, as far as training and the way we live our lives is a little different. The intensity to do well on the track and in these races had definitely been amped up...Doing well, I think the intensity has been blown up. JK: Nationally you don't notice it as much, but when you go overseas it is. (BMXers) cruising around with their National Governing Bodies-the sport was never like that. When I started, people were riding for fun. Now it is the next level. KH: We have to warm up for 10-15 minutes. Before, I would show up at a race, get on my bike and that was really it... If you won that was great. It wasn't to the intensity... All these different type of technologies. Q: Is BMX safe for kids' DR: Obviously understand, I don't want to have my kids get hurt. What a lot of people don't realize is that we take a lot of precautions. We have helmets that we wear. We have fully padded uniforms. We have all been pretty blessed, as far as injuries goes. Injuries are definitely possible anytime... it's no more dangerous with your local football team. We all know those precautions; things happen, but that is part of the risks and rewards of this. JK: Plus, little kids don't start on ramps. They are all pretty mellow. KH: It is a family-oriented sport. My brother did it, so I ended up doing it... They inform everyone about safety equipment. Q: Is BMX becoming more mainstream' KH: We all live at the training center. They have a nutritionist on sight, a strength and conditioning coach. I know Mike and Jill have their own specific coach. I went out and found someone that deals with mental training. There are so many aspects that I never thought would be associated with BMX and that is all in play because of the Olympics. MD: I got a coach. You go to the races prepared and have a weekly schedule. It makes it easier knowing you have put in the work. It just seems to be easier. JK: We have the support from the Olympics that are helping us to progress. Q: Are there opportunities for girls to start in the sport' JK: I have a brother that is a professional dirt jumper as well and we started out racing together. I was the tag-along little sister like most girls start out in the sport. I had a few girls I always raced against... There are not a lot of girls in the sport. But after you get a little bit better, and go to the Olympics, you find them. I don't know, it was what I liked to do. I always tried to keep up with the boys. Q: Has it gotten better' JK: Yes, especially in the past year. I came back... and these Supercrossed tracks are no joke. To me it is so impressive. You look at guys...it takes a certain type of girl to do this. I think we are finding more of them as there is an Olympic medal hanging over them. A lot of them want that. Q: What are the sports that people come from' KH: I did basketball and softball in high school. I know a bunch of my friends have done soccer, track , field; I think it kind of varies. DR: I think I am the weird one up here. I started out in gymnastics and I did a lot of singing and dancing. I think we all have our own life and different personalities. Definitely everything we have done has contributed to our BMX. JK: I was on a national soccer team. It was kind of like, those had to give. My soccer coach, he was always telling me I had to pick one. Q: (Inaudible) KB: I didn't really think it would happen; it was something I had dreamed about since I was little. Being in the Olympics is amazing, it is the highest our sport can go... We are seeing a lot of changes. Having a track in Chula Vista is amazing. As far as where it will go as a sport, I see nothing but positive things coming out. DR: I think the Olympic Games give all people a sense pride. The closest thing I got to feeling an Olympic gold medal is the '96 women's gymnastic team. I just followed them so much. All that drama happened, I felt like I was there, I was a part of that. I want that feeling. (I thought) the only way I am going to get that is if I go to gymnastics because BMX is not going to be in the Olympics. BMX is our passion. Now that we have an opportunity to do what we love on such a huge world stage is an amazing opportunity and we are definitely going to make the most of it. JK: It makes a sport that wasn't super visible to the world...Pretty soon everyone will know what BMX is. KH: Being an athlete you want to be at an Olympic stage. When I was younger I wanted that. I have always wanted to be an Olympian when we all made the decision to go pro, I was in high school. I didn't know if I wanted to make that change because I would be ineligible to go into other sports...This is an opportunity for us and an opportunity for our sport. Q: How much can you make' Is there is a big history with this sport' MD: As for the legend question, BMX has only been around 35 years. There are legends that we grew up watching that are still involved with the sport... They are still involved. With the legends, with how many races they won; we look up to them. With all the worlds coming up, we see the legends with how many races they've won. KH: For them, we had a ribbon cutting ceremony. The old legends came out to support us. They were just known as kids who would pick up a bike and race each other. They were just having fun. I think it means a lot that we are representing BMX on this level. DR: The vintage racers and money kind of tie in...Once the sport really took off, late 70's and 80's, then money can. The sponsors saw how great it would be for their businesses. With anything, when you put your whole heart and soul into something, the money will come. My dad always said, if you are going to do this, put your whole heart into it. Don't worry about the money, don't worry about making a living at it. You know, this is what you love to do and when you do that the money will come. We are blessed with this being our main job. And we are able to put everything into it and definitely not have to worry about anything. Q: How significant are the trials' How has the BMX culture changed in your personal experiences' MD: The trials race is a day that will be a bit stressful. We know Kyle is going to get the first spot... You know, that is pretty much our last resort, is the trials. I am looking forward to it, but kind of stressed out too. I will go on the track; I will continue to do that until June. It is going to be a pretty big headache. DR: I am still going to try to catch Kyle. Still, it is going to take a radical miracle. If we are having to do that trials race, the only thing you can do is live for what it is, to have that second spot on the Olympic Team. We are all friends off the track, but on that day, it will be a pretty stressful day. We are going to take it for all it is worth. KH: At the training center, the USOC women's softball team was there. Jennie (Finch) said, 'we have been following you guys.' That is amazing. She is a big superstar... Her reputation, for them to be there... To have the support of all the athletes it is pretty amazing. It just is an amazing feeling. It is going to be one of those, 'hey, I was there.' It is a once of a lifetime kind of experience. MD: That is all new to us. We don't really know what is ahead of us.... Q: Who are you sizing up internationally' Where were you practicing before the Chula Vista track opened' MD: I have a local track at home. With it being in San Diego, that is the only starting hill that we have access to train on. We would just practice the day before the event. It has been a world of difference showing up to these races prepared. Our speeds there are just a bit ridiculous. It has been a world of difference. DR: Before we had this track, we would only have these big starting hills in other countries... It is definitely a shocker. The fear and anxiety we had before going to these events was quite high. With this Olympic track... You know what, this doesn't seem like such a big deal anymore. That training center we have is an amazing advantage we have. Q: What are the personality traits in BMX biking' DR: Obviously all people have their different personalities. I'm a goofy kid and I like to have fun; BMX is my thing. Kyle and Kim are different people with different aspects. BMX racing and riders are wholesome characters. We know exactly what it takes to make our dreams come true. We don't really stray from our lives. To live the best life we can for ourselves, and for the kids and parents. We are a good breed definitely for the Olympics. The sport is going to help the Olympics out. BMX racers should do all right there. JK: I have noticed it is a group of people... It is a different kind of ego. Not good or bad. It is who is the strongest. BMX has a different kind of training and you stick to that. Everyone is super nice and it is fun. There is definitely a pattern. DR: Unfortunately we don't just race and ride our bike and call it a day. That is our lives and we have chosen that. That makes us better people. Kyle Bennett: -"People are seeing for the first time what we are capable of achieving." -"Now that I am 100 percent, I am devoting all of my time to the sport." -"It's very exciting because the Olympics is the highest our sport can go_" -"When I get to Beijing, I just want to take it all in and enjoy the moment."Mike Day: -"Yes Kyle, is the man to beat, and yes he has been the one to beat for three years now_ -"BMX racing is won in the first 10 pedals."Donny Robinson: -"This is our chance to bring this sport to the world." -"Any person can race BMX. That's what gives this sport some character. You can root for the wild child, the underdog_" -"I don't think the Olympics take away the edge of the sport. I just think it's a great opportunity for the sport." -"This sport is all mental_strongest rider is the one that gets out first." -"You must be strong to get the pedals going, but also quick to move."
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