For the first time ever, BMX bike racing is an official Olympic sport. And a young lady from Utah was hoping to be the first female to represent the U.S. in the sport.
Arielle Martin wants to be in Beijing more than anything! Leading up to the Olympics, the Alpine-area native was a shoe-in to compete. She is one of the top ranked riders in the world, but she crashed during the qualifying race.
"It was a huge world turned upside down kind of a feeling when I found out," says Martin.
She was confident she would be the first woman to represent the U.S. in BMX racing at the Olympics. But because of the crash in the quarter finals her biggest competitor is going instead.
The U.S. only has one qualifying spot, and after Martin's crash, Jill Kintner came out with more points. Martin knows Kintner well. They are training partners at the Olympics Training Center near San Diego.
"We kind of started out as rivals, and then they put us in an apartment together, and we became really, really good friends," Martin says.
Martin has been able to live and train full time in California since her husband is serving overseas. He is deployed in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division.
Martin is somewhat of a local celebrity. Ron Melton, from Rad Canyon BMX in Utah, says, "Arielle is a hometown lady. We love her to death. She's our shining star from Utah."
The folks at Rad Canyon BMX hope the Olympics bring more recognition to the sport and make it more mainstream. Even with Martin staying home this time, they hope some rider from Utah will make it to the Olympics in the future.
"This is where the next Olympians will come from," says Melton, "the grass roots level."
Martin has been racing BMX bikes since she was five years old. She grew up in Cedar Hills watching her Dad race. She got her first bike at five and was hooked.
"I love the level of fear. That brings adrenaline. I love the speed. I love doing things that most people don't do," Martin says.
And even if she's not going to China, she's glad BMX racing is now a medal sport.
She says, "It's an extreme sport, and we're starting to see the development of extreme sports into the Olympics, and it's bringing in that younger demographic."
Here is her advice to viewers who may be watching BMX racing for the first time:
Arielle is a reserve. So, if anything happens to Kintner, Arielle will fly to Beijing to compete.
To read Martin's blog click here.