Two-Wheeled Warrior

Donny Robinson has sights set on gold in Beijing

How does your size affect your training? Are there certain things you do that a taller guy like Mike Day can't or vice versa?
It's always been about what I can't do. Everybody's always said 'you can't do this because it's a big guy's sport. They have more power than you and when they hit you you're going to fly off the track.' I've been able to prove people wrong on that because I've found my strength and use it to my advantage. With my size, I can fit into smaller spots on the track and make tighter moves. The reason I'm competitive is because I have a good strength-to-weight ratio and have been able to build up enough strength to get out in front of these guys. I'm not in the pack and getting bumped and hurt like I was when I first turned pro. Mike Day was meant to be on a bike. Regardless if he's racing or doing tricks, the kid just flows. If you have a rhythm section and deep jumps, those are his skill areas. He's just so smooth and having such long legs can gain that speed where I can't because I have shorter legs. But I'm stronger than Mike, so I can get out in front better than he can. But he can come from behind better than I can too.

BMX has always seemed like a traditionally American sport. Who do you see as the biggest competition internationally going into Beijing?
In the past few years, the Australians and Dutch have been super consistent and you always know they're going to be threats. Since we've been riding with these guys more we've gotten to know their riding style a little bit. The Australians are kind of like the U.S. riders. It's tough to tell what the differences are. In the last 8 months these two Latvian kids — we call them the Cyborgs — they train just like Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. They look just like him — they're blond and huge. They're doing really well right now and we're wondering what they're doing that's making them improve so much. Their style on the bike and the way they take the track is so basic. There's no style to it — just power and getting the job done. That's kind of different than the U.S. riders and Australians. We're more loose on the bike and like to style a little bit.

What's the biggest misconception people have about BMX?
When you say BMX, people think of Dave Mirra. That's the biggest challenge we've had so far. You've got to say BMX racing and then people get it. BMX racing is racing — it's one lap and not judged. The person who crosses the finish line first wins. It's not a team sport, you get to make your own destiny. And by the way, we're going 40 miles per hour on 40-foot jumps next to seven other riders that are an inch from your handlebars. You gotta get through to the viewers and let them see how gnarly of a sport this is and how awesome it is for riders but also for the spectators to watch. You're on the edge of your seat. Anything can happen in BMX. The best rider doesn't always win — because of a mistake out of a gate or someone hits you coming out of a jump — that's the excitement of BMX racing.

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