BMX Diary: 250 Days Down, 10 to Go. Life in ‘Rocky’ Mode
Source: NY Times, “The Rings” by Jill Kintner
Jill Kintner is the only female member of the United States Olympic BMX team. She’ll be recording her impressions about the Games for the Rings blog and on her own Web site, www.jillkintner.com.
CHULA VISTA, Calif. — The first day I moved into the Olympic training center, the countdown clock till Beijing read 250 days, 10 hours, 13 minutes, 33 seconds or something close to that. Point being that every second of every minute was time accounted for as part of an Olympic experience, and that now every day would be a chance to discover a world whose doors used to be closed to BMX.
Adding a new sport attracts a lot of attention but also leaves questions for people who have never heard of the sport, or are unsure how it will fit into the tradition of the games. Don’t think anyone knew exactly what to expect, but it didn’t take long for us to mesh, either. We brought something fresh and exhilarating that anyone who ever rode a bike could relate to.
USA Cycling and the Olympic Training Center built a Beijing-replica BMX track in Chula Vista, so we were all set to live Olympic and really do this right. Every dream has to have a plan, and this was a huge step.
We would be surrounded by talented athletes from all sports, strength coaches, athletic trainers, psychologists, dieticians, etc. Incredible. In this environment super athletes are normal and we all understand how much sacrifice has to be made. Having that personal connection with the other athletes throughout the experience amplified the waves of struggle and triumph during qualifying.
Throughout the Olympic qualification process, some people came home overjoyed, and others absolutely heartbroken. BMX trials were the most real reality show I ever witnessed, and hit home for me emotionally having just been through the craziest qualifying process competing against my roommate and close friend. The Olympic Training Center is a community of people who have shared this journey and also become part of one another’s story. I feel attached to my fellow residents and am extra excited to be amongst them, in China, knowing what it took for all of us to get there.
My own story to become an Olympian had so many ups and downs, close calls, tears, wins, losses, injuries, surgeries, adventure, inner satisfaction, hard work, comeback and potential, it feels like I have climbed an enormous mountain and been given the chance to make a difference. Out of all the hundreds of women who could have been, I am the first and only girl going to represent the US for BMX — and that carries a lot of honor. It makes me want to ride the best I can for anyone who ever knew me and touched my life: sponsors, coach, all the little girls looking up to me. This opportunity is all the motivation one needs. This process is beyond me, it’s about giving back to everyone else and laying down my most inspiring performance.
Without losing too much perspective, our lives are simple right now leading up to one of most anticipated sporting event in history. We eat, train, sleep and cover media requests…simple. Much of our personal lives go on hold to enter into “Rocky” mode. This is the focus, this is the dream. As all the other athletes from here have left for China and will march in opening ceremonies, we sit back and continue training on our replica course till it’s our turn to leave. All the preparations have been done, every single day to the max, it is now up to that single moment in time to decide…. Wish me luck.