All the Olympic hype in the media is unbelievably exciting leading up to the London Games!!. Following along as a fan is a lot different than competing, but it is fun for me to have both perspectives.
With a week and a half to go, there is an embargo for individual athlete websites and stuff, but the quality of exposure from the last few months has been very high. Hours and hours of video profiles, athlete commercials, training vids, and captivating stories. Every single person going to the games has some kind of personal triumph as to how they got there, or a struggle, sacrifice, injury, etc. Trials were really intense and sometimes heart braking to follow- just a few highs and lows:). It's not easy to be an Olympian, obviously, so let the games begin and see how the chips fall.
Most of the BMX stories involve explaining what the sport is. Seems like everyone grew up with a bike of some kind, so it is relatable, but not everyone knows as much about racing. Freestyle BMX is pretty mainstream with the X-games and all the various superstars like Mirra, TJ Lavin, Hoffman. For racing though, the sport is still a bit unknown to most, only the die hard might know who Bob Haro, Greg Hill, and Gary "The Lumberjack" Ellis are.
I enjoy all the charts and breakdowns that media sources come up with, as well as defining the jargon. Bmx vocab needs it's own urban dictionary almost; wheelie, gate, hole-shot, snap, pimped, getting squirrely, nosing it in, casing, boost, overshoot, manual, pull manual, nose bonk, ramping, the kink, the one-two, tires, micro-knobby, helmets, goggles, single speeds, rhythm sections, step ups, hips, rollers, doubles and triples, pulling a snowman (8th), owning it, etc... Guess there is a lot to it if you have never seen the sport before, which makes the olympics the best opportunity to educate and reach so many people.
With 4 years separating the first ever games from now in BMX, all the athletes, coaches, trainers, cycling organizations, fans, etc really have an understanding of how the Olympics changed the sport, and the science and evolution that has come with specialized training. Bikes haven't really changed that much, probably a few new carbon pieces, or tire patterns, but for sure better athletes and tracks.
France was on the cutting edge for years with their tight technical courses, separating pros and amateurs, while America did have pro sections, there was still the little 5 year old that had to be able to roll through everything else. Supercross BMX changed the level of skills. The main difference being a 40 foot high start ramp and massive jumps.
Even the beijing track, after a year of riding other supercross tracks, was easy come Olympic time. In Chula vista at the US Olympic Training Center, when I lived there construction was being done to build a track. Now they have 2 supercross tracks, an ABA track, skills areas, etc. It's quite a sight!!! Bmx took over. Stoked that Donny, Mikey, and I did so well in China, to get the funding for the next generation of USA BMX.
I personally think after London, BMX will be one of the most showcased events, because it is so fast, exciting, technical, plus the people are humble and within reach to common folks. The rain delay killed prime time coverage from Beijing, so this time around should be better, if it doesn't rain:).
Shanaze Reid lives near London, so she is doing her part and drawing a lot of people in. It is so good to create heros and give the people someone to cheer for. Of course, I am fully supporting USA, but I still appreciate the global effort. To have a BMX racers on the doors of Holiday Inns, on Coke bottles, McDonalds cups is quite remarkable. I have a lot of positive Olympic memories, and love sports of all kind, so this is like Playoffs, world championships, etc all rolled into one.