North Carolina

North Carolina man named USA’s head coach for first year of BMX freestyle in Olympics

Legendary BMX freestyle rider Ryan Nyquist will be head coach for USA Cycling as the sport gets ready for its Olympic debut in Tokyo next year.

USA Cycling made the announcement recently to put the North Carolina man at the head of its BMX freestyle recruiting and training efforts before the 2020 summer games.

This will be the first year the Olympic Games features BMX freestyle cycling.

“Nyquist will play a key role in the program, organizing and accompanying riders to camps as well as domestic and international competitions. He will also work with internal staff to create selection procedures and ensure that athletes are getting the support they need on and off the bike,” USA Cycling said in a press release.

Nyquist lived in Greenville, North Carolina and trained there for years before moving to Wilmington in 2018, according to WECT.

The day of the announcement, Nyquist said on Instagram, “Well... my quest to be an Olympic athlete was cut short due to a couple poor contest results, but I’m proud to announce that I took the position of Head Coach of the USA BMX Freestyle Team!! I’d like to thank @usacycling and @britbmxer for their patience and their belief in me! Bring it on Tokyo 2020!”

“I’m not retiring from BMX Freestyle,” Nyquist said in a statement from USA Cycling. “I still have many goals for riding, and I’m not ready to hang up my helmet just yet, but when the opportunity to be the Head Coach presented itself, I couldn’t help but think that my history and success with competing could help fast track the current and next generation of athletes to achieve their goals and dreams.”

“I want to teach them how to be fierce competitors and how to push the limits of what’s possible in our sport, all while being role models and true professionals,” he said.

Nyquist turned pro in 1996 and made his X-Games debut in 1997. He is a three-time BMX freestyle World Champion and has won 16 medals in the X-Games, according to USA Cycling.

Before going to the Olympics, “Nyquist will continue to work alongside the BMX National team athletes as they head into the inaugural USA Cycling BMX Freestyle National Championships and Pan-American Championships,” USA Cycling said in the release.

The back-to-back events will be held in Cary, North Carolina, in October before the 2019 World Championships in China.

Olympic organizers announced the addition of BMX freestyle in 2017: “The addition of BMX freestyle park to the programme for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 completes the event’s rise from the streets to the top table of international sport.”

“The event is an adrenaline-fuelled mix of outrageous tricks and jumps, taking place over a series of ramps and large obstacles, all set up within a 30mx50m park. Athletes complete two one-minute runs each, looking to impress judges with the difficulty, originality, style, flow, risk, height and execution of their tricks,” according to Olympics organizers.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.