Updated: 8/19/2016 – Connor Fields wins Olympic Gold in Rio!
Connor Fields is a young man competing in a freshly minted Olympic Sport, BMX racing. At only 19 years of age Connor is a BMX phenom, a multi-race podium finisher in World Cup events, and just last month he took the gold medal at the Pan American Games.
In spite of Connor’s youth, he is actually a seasoned veteran of his sport. From USA Cycling:
“A flyer advertising the local BMX track captured the attention of Connor’s mother back in 1999 when she stopped in at the bike shop near their home in Las Vegas. She must have thought that BMX would at least interest her 7-year-old son if not provide a reasonably safe, enclosed area where he could spend some energy for a while. Turns out she was spot on in her hunch and Connor has evolved into a world-class racer. If it was his mother that launched the notion of BMX racing, it has been his father who has managed the dream by tirelessly shuttling Connor to practice and races, by filming races that he and Connor can review later, and by sacrificing a lot just so his son could race BMX.”
While he was on a recent trip overseas, Connor took some time out to answer a few of my questions.
From what I have read, the BMX events at the Olympics are all out sprints (approximately one quarter mile). Is this typical for the rest of your competition season or is it unique to the Olympics?
It’s typical. The track we will race at the Olympics is pretty similar to all of the other tracks we will race. Only difference is the jumps are a bit bigger.
In most sports, there is a definite season, and then an off season. This lets athletes target their peak performances for the most important part of the season and have time to recover. Is BMX racing similar?
No, our sport runs 10 months of the year, so you have to decide when you want to peak and sacrifice some other races in order to get to your peak. The month of December is always off and some take off January as well.
With some of my recent interviews, the athletes talked about how their sport required them to be in it for a long time before they had enough strength to compete at an elite level. Given that aren’t 20 yet, do you think that you still have a while before you realize your peak performance?
I think I can reach my peak in the next year or so, but yes it does take a bit longer to get that man strength that comes with age. But right now the sport is young, the world champ is 20, USA national champ 19, and the 2008 Olympic champ was 22.
What does your training program look like, and how is it divided between bike time and non-bike time?
My program revolves around bike time. A typical week for me in the off season, or when I am working on strength, is 2 days a week in the gym and 3 on the bike. But in race season it switches to 1 day in the gym and 3-4 on the bike.
Have you participated in non-bike related athletics? And given the “sprint” nature of your sport, are you a fast runner?
Cycling and running are 2 completely different motions, so I’m not the fastest runner. I am very explosive though and I can dunk a basketball. I love snowboarding and football and I do those recreationally.
What does it take from a sponsorship point of view to be successful in BMX?
Sponsors and money help, but if you’re doing it for the right reasons, you can do it as a privateer. It is simple, win races and make money. So worry about training and winning and the money will come. The most important part is having a coach who you trust, and a good support group.
Is there anything special about your diet or do you eat pretty standard fare?
I try to eat healthy and get all my fruits and veggies. Nothing too special, just eat healthy.
Perhaps that gold medal at the Pan American Games is a prelude of things to come.
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