It’s a Long way to London

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Five riders will represent the United States in BMX racing at the 2012 London Olympic Games: three men and two women.
Among the three men is Lakeside’s Nic Long, now a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.

Five riders will represent the United States in BMX racing at the 2012 London Olympic Games: three men and two women.
Among the three men is Lakeside’s Nic Long, now a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.

The U.S. made the most of its four entries at the 2008 Beijing Games during which the sport made its Olympic debut by scoring three medals — silver for Mike Day and bronze for Donny Robinson in the men’s competition and bronze for Jill Kittner in the women’s field.
Fast forward four years and none of the 2008 Olympic medal winners are on the U.S. team bound for London.
It’s apparent that BMX is a young person’s sport.
Day is now 28, Robinson is 27 while Kintner is 30.

In their place are 19-year-old Nevadan Connor Fields, 22-year-old Nic Long and 23-year-old Coloradan David Herman among the men and 26-year-old Utahan Arielle Martin and 21-year-old Minnesotan Alise Post among the women.
They are being counted on to climb the Olympic awards stand in England.

The selection process for the 2012 U.S. BMX team entailed three separate criteria. The overall men’s and women’s points leader in the 2012 USA Cycling BMX Power Rankings each earned an automatic berth on the team. Herman was the automatic men’s qualifier with 785 points while Martin was the automatic women’s qualifier with 723 points.

The second men’s spot was determined by the winner of the U.S. Olympic BMX Trials June 16 at the Chula Vista OTC. Fields earned that distinction by winning the four-man main event in 38.203 seconds — 0.42 seconds ahead of Day in second place and 0.562 seconds ahead of 20-year-old Tucson native Corben Sharrah in third place.
The remaining two U.S. team berths (one men’s and one women’s) were left up to a coach’s discretionary pick.
Long earned the last men’s spot while Post earned the final women’s berth.
Long finished third in the 2012 BMX power rankings (behind Herman and Fields) while Post finished second in the women’s power rankings.

The coach’s picks were announced a few hours after the U.S. Olympic Trials concluded at the OTC.
Long’s selection came as bit of a surprise considering he had a disappointing showing at the Olympic trials. After winning the second time trial in 39.047, he finished fifth in each of the ensuing three motos to miss the main event cut altogether.
According to sources, however, the Olympic Trials results (other than the winner) were to play no part in the discretionary selections. The U.S. coaching staff’s objective was to put together the best combination of athletes, based on physical and mental strengths, who could bring back medals from the 2012 Summer Games.

What Long had going for him was a third-place finish at the London track test event last August.
He is optimistic not only about his own chances to medal in London but that of the rest of the U.S. team.
“We raced on the Olympic course last August and I think we’ll be very competitive and have a good chance to bring home medals,” Long said. “They’ve made some minor changes to the course since then, which makes it a bit more easier.”
He paused before adding with a smile, “Not as fun.”

Long said developing leg speed is perhaps the most important element in generating success on any professional BMX course.
“There’s a lot of pedaling involved, especially on the first straightaway,” he said.
The five American selections expect to receive stiff competition from their European rivals. Latvia’s Maris Strombergs won the men’s gold medal at the Beijing Games while France’s Anne-Caroline Chausson and Laetitia le Corquille finished with the women’s gold and silver, respectively, at the 2008 Summer Games.
“We all know what we’re getting into,” Fields said.
“There’s not going to be any slacking off going on here,” Herman added. “We’re going to put in some solid work and come back with some medals.”

The London Games will take place through Aug. 12. BMX is scheduled Aug. 8-10.
For more information, visit www.usoc.org.