Pro BMX Rider Daniel Dhers has added to his impressive resume by winning gold medals at X Games 16 earlier this month. I had the chance to catch up with him and talk about his ambitions on and off the bike.
Bleacher Report: How has 2010 been going for you? Has it met your expectations?
Daniel Dhers: This year has been great. I've been riding a lot and putting in a lot of work. I won some competitions in 2007 and 2008, but didn't do so well last year. My goal is to always win every event I enter, in the back of my mind it's always about winning. The X Games this year were a really great experience. The preliminaries didn't go go well, but I just changed the way I did things, changed some tricks, and it definitely paid off.
BR: Who are your favorite BMX riders to watch?
DD: Dave Mirra. He does everything at a whole different speed. He brings something completely different to the sport. It'll be a long time before anyone can come close to his accomplishments.
BR: Who are some of the young up and comers that we should look for in the X Games scene?
DD: Andrew Brophy from Australia is a great skateboarder, and Pat Casey is a BMX rider with great style. He's only sixteen years old, and I already think he's going to cause me some headaches in the future. I don't really ever watch videos online of other riders performing tricks, but I watch his. He does great tricks, he has a completely different style.
BR: What got you into BMX?
DD: Well I was born in Caracas (Venezuela) and lived there until I was 16. I was just a kid who loved riding my bike. I started doing my first tricks when I was 13, and ever since then I just fell in love with it. I rode as much as I could at home and the rest is history!
BR: Who were your favorite athletes growing up?
DD: Before I got into riding and doing tricks, I did Karate and played baseball and basketball. But I loved to watch the Brazilian national soccer team. They are really the only athletes I remember paying attention to as a child.
BR: What have been the highlights of your career so far?
DD: In 2008 I won the Dew Tour and gold medals at the X Games, that was the best.
BR: What is your favorite event to compete in?
DD: Definitely BMX Park.
BR: What advice do you have for any young people who want to get into BMX riding?
DD: Do it because you love it. Most people have the goal of becoming a pro, but going professional isn't easy. Practice as much as you can, but make sure you're enjoying what you're doing.
BR: In the past 10 years, the popularity of extreme sports has soared in the US. Why do you think that is?
DD: I think the X Games has been a big part of our growing popularity. Not to mention, having stars like Tony Hawk and Dave Mirra in the sports, it makes it more entertaining. They even have their own video games, which says a lot. Having the X Games on ESPN has also been huge. I think that when people have seen the same sports for so long, seeing something new like BMX is pretty refreshing.
BR: How can BMX become more popular outside the US?
DD: We've had some international events but it would be nice to get other countries involved more, maybe even hose the X Games somewhere else. I've heard that BMX is one of the fastest growing sports among people aged 10-19, and that makes sense because people enjoy it and kids like to participate. If we got BMX in the Olympics that would make a huge difference. Just look at what it's done for snowboarding and some of the other sports.
BR: What is something unusual about you that most people might not know?
DD: I'm trilingual, I speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese. I also can solve a rubik's cube really fast (laughs), and I can play Guitar Hero on expert!
BR: Who do owe the most thanks to for your success?
DD: First my parents. They always supported me even though they wanted me to do other things. They let me get away with doing things my own way and it worked out. Also, Woodward Camps. I got to live there for a few years and without them I never would have gotten this far. I got to ride for hours every day and it helped a lot. I can't think of a better place in the world to learn how to ride.
BR: Lastly, let's talk about your partnership with CooperVision, and the role that they are playing in youth sports.
DD: They are trying to get more kids wearing contact lenses who are playing sports. It's made a big difference for me, because my whole family wears glasses and I never really wanted to wear them while riding. I was riding at dusk one evening in 2007 and I realized I couldn't see the rails very well in the low light. Ever since I wore contacts, it's made riding easier. So getting kids to wear contacts is a great idea to me, and I wanted to help out. CooperVision is also giving away $2500 in sports equipment to certain teams who go to MyContactSports.com. I'm all for it, it's been great
Cooper Vision's program is called Gear Up Grants, which awards $2,500 in sports equipment to deserving community athletes and teams so they have what's necessary to be at the top of their game.
Teens can visit http://www.mycontactsports.com to apply for a grant between now and Sept. 30, 2010.