‘The only reason we do this, is for the kids’ local excitement builds as BMX, freestyle take Olympic stage
NEWARK, N. Y. (WHEC)—The Olympic Games can be a special time for athletes of all ages to feel inspired.
Locally, Upstate BMX in Newark is an organization that wants to do just that for their riders. BMX racing and BMX freestyle are the newest sports to be included in the Olympics.
Holding back tears, Stephanie Liechti says pushing young talent to pursue their dreams is what she lives for. Liechti has been the track operator for Upstate BMX for many years.
"The only reason we do this, is for the kids," Liechti said. "This level here is totally different than the Olympic level, the starting hill is absolutely huge and the jumps are bigger but the cool part is, the kids have all of the Olympians to look up to.”
The track in Newark is the only track in the Rochester area. The next closest track is in Horseheads and the Buffalo area. Riders range from 2-years-old and up both boys and girls. Riders that have been pedaling for decades say, they’ve had the chance to meet some of the BMX Olympians.
"Connor fields, Alise Willoughby, a lot of the current pros, we’ve met them, and the other great thing is you get to ride the same track that they, the pros ride,” Wayne Williamson said, who’s been riding for 14 years.
One family tells News10NBC that BMX riding is what they do, and it’s the most empowering feeling to see it in the limelight.
"We’re excited to see it back in the Olympics, it’s incredible and they’ll have our full support next week when they start racing, and we started four years ago,” the Verstreate family said.
Friday night’s event was a charity race for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The track will host their biggest event, the state race this Sunday the 25th.