Athlete's Corner

Athlete’s Corner: Overcoming Setbacks

A freestyle BMX course is purposely filled with obstacles. Ramps and walls allow the riders to be creative and perform intricate tricks.

Over the course of an athlete’s career, another type of obstacle can get in the way, one that does not feel as opportunistic – injuries. These speed bumps may force them to slow down, but they are quick to focus on recovery and on making the necessary adjustments to bounce back.

As the freestyle team prepared to travel to Japan for the first world cup of the season – the UCI BMX Freestyle Park and Flatland World Cup in Hiroshima – we heard from the riders about overcoming obstacles in their path to success. We asked, “Describe a major setback you had and your mindset as you worked your way back from it.”

Nina Buitrago (Austin, Texas)

“Injuries have been the hardest setback for me to deal with. The worst one was when I managed to break my jaw. I over shot my landing in a concrete bowl transfer and hit the ground with chin first and knocked some teeth out. Multiple surgeries later and years of dental work, getting back on the bike was a bit tough at first. I switched to a full face helmet for a bit and that seemed to really help me get my confidence back. I had never ridden with a full face at that point and began to feel somewhat invincible, kind of like my BMX heroes Mat Hoffman and Jay Miron, who wore full face helmets too.”

Nick Bruce (Youngstown, Ohio)

“A major setback might be my most recent injury of a broken collarbone. It was my first real injury since becoming a professional, and it took me off the bike for longer than I imagined. But it was an amazing opportunity to really check in with myself and adopt new methods to become healthier both physically and mentally. I’ve been learning to really listen to my body, so it can heal and recover properly before I push it too hard too soon, which has been the hardest thing to learn but necessary as I kept prolonging the recovery process.”

Pat Casey (Yorba Linda, Calif.)

“I recently had a bad bruise on my calf. I know a bruise sounds like nothing, but it lasted a month. It gave me a dead leg for a week and the next week the swelling worked its way down to my ankle. The inflammation and swelling were so bad I had to go get the bruise broken up and rubbed out – after a week it had turned into a hardened ball of blood inside my leg. It was the most painful injury healing process I’ve had, and I was getting depressed and thinking it was really messed up after three weeks. The fourth week I went almost every day to the doctor and got the lump rubbed out and it was fixed. It was all the inflammation stopping my blood flow and causing it to be so painful. I’m good now but it scared me.”

Cory Coffey (Ojai, Calif.)

“There have been countless setbacks in all the years of riding. I’ve endured lots of knee surgeries and every time I would just put my head down and focus on rehab. Each time I hurt myself I would just try and get through the days so I could get back on my bike again.”

Eight members of the USA Cycling National Team are competing in Hiroshima, Japan, from April 6-8 at the first of five UCI BMX Freestyle Park World Cups this season. The women’s lineup includes Nina Buitrago (Austin, Texas), Cory Coffey (Ojai, Calif.), Angie Marino (Phoenix) and Hannah Roberts (Buchanan, Mich.); with Nick Bruce (Youngstown, Ohio), Pat Casey (Yorba Linda, Calif.), Justin Dowell (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Colton Walker (Minneapolis) on the men’s team.

BMX Freestyle Park will make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, becoming first Olympic BMX Freestyle discipline on the program. The event will also be on the 2018 Youth Olympic Games program this summer in Buenos Aires.

Follow @USACyclingLIVE on Twitter for updates during this weekend's World Cup. and USA Cycling on Instagram and Facebook for the latest on the USA Cycling National Team. Follow @UCI_BMX_FS and @fiseworld on Twitter for results and updates throughout the BMX freestyle season.

For more information email: kfox@usacycling.org