Hubbard-born Nick Bruce is getting ready to compete in the X Games in Minneapolis. Bruce will represent the United States in BMX freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo submitted)
Hubbard-born Nick Bruce always thought that taking part in the X Games would be the highlight of his BMX freestyle career. He was okay with this because of the impact it would have on the younger generation.
Bruce fell in love with the sport watching the annual event at a young age. The ability to perform at this level and possibly inspire younger riders was something he always strived for.
Bruce’s ambitions changed when the International Olympic Committee added BMX freestyle to the 2017 Olympics.All of a sudden, all he focused on was traveling to Tokyo, representing his country and having a greater impact on young drivers.
After four years of competition and waiting, Bruce will achieve his dream when he becomes a Part of Team USA is going to Tokyo to compete in the first BMX freestyle event at the Olympic Games. The BMX Freestyle competition will take place on July 31st and August 1st at the Ariake Urban Sports Park.
“The fact that I can perform on the biggest stage, even bigger than the X Games, and potentially inspiring more young children the way I was inspired is a great privilege and I’m looking forward to it, « said Bruce.
» It’s really amazing. We first heard that our sport was going to compete in the 2017 Olympics, and since then I’ve known that this is what I wanted more than anything. So the fact that it all worked out is pretty insane. ”
For the 2011 Hubbard High School graduate and former Youngstown State student, it was a long way to get to this stage in his career.
As a little boy, Bruce used to ride his bike to find places to cycle. But when the area’s indoor parks started closing, Bruce said he’d started dropping out of the sport.
He’d find his way around a hike to Cleveland once a month, but when he was 14 or 15 years old What was a good time to start a career in the sport, he said he had started to focus more on other things. Playing baseball, working with his dad, and other activities took up most of his time and his bike fell on the side.
« I kind of fell out and didn’t really think about it until I graduated (high school ) « said Bruce.
» I planned my classes so that I could ride afterwards and have more time on my bike, and that turned it all around, « said Bruce. « I started to drive more and somehow had that extra spark and couldn’t imagine driving without it. »
Post-class riding lessons became winning amateur competitions that allowed Bruce to compete in professional competitions. Soon he was traveling more for events than he was in the classroom, and he began to see his future fall together.
“That was the first time, at the age of 21, I thought, ‘Wow, I could do this actually do it as a pro, ‘”said Bruce, who is now 29 years old. « Then I’ve just followed it up ever since. »
Before qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, Bruce took part in the 2017 X Games and finished fourth in the BMX dirt event. He returned again in 2019 after missing the 2018 competition due to injury. He also competed in the World Championships and won a bronze medal in 2019 and a fifth place last year, which cemented his place on the Olympic team.
« At that point, I was not qualified (for the Olympic Games). I qualified as a replacement but I wasn’t sure so I was extremely depressed, ”said Bruce. “Then an event occurred after or during the pandemic, and that opportunity arose to consolidate my place. I haven’t let up. I didn’t stop training during the pandemic and I knew I was fully prepared for it.
« It didn’t quite go according to plan, I wanted to do better, but I did exactly what I had to do, to qualify for the Olympics. ”
It was the conclusion of a four year wait in which Bruce had to stay at the top of his game while doing his best in every competition. He also had to find a way to stay competitive during the coronavirus pandemic.
It wasn’t easy, but Bruce found a way to do it. Just before the pandemic broke out, Bruce built his own indoor park where he can train anytime.
“I think it makes the biggest difference just in terms of confidence on my bike and the feeling of being a strong rider and to be a competitor, ”said Bruce. “I know I am ready. I know I could have done it without it, if I hadn’t had it. But the fact that I’ve had it and have used it to the max for the past year and a half, I know it has helped my driving so much. «
Now, on the way to the biggest competition of his life, Bruce feels, like he’s at the top of his game.
« I feel the hardest thing I’ve ever felt, in terms of both confidence and tricks, » said Bruce. “I feel really good, I’m in a good place, and I am relieved more than anything that the qualification process is over. Now I can just enjoy it more. That’s all I’m really looking forward to. ”
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