Maris Strombergs is a BMX racing machine.
Nicknamed “The Machine,” Strombergs made history when he won the first-ever Olympic Gold in BMX Racing in 2008. He will be representing Latvia in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The Olympian explains how he fell in love with BMX, divulges his Olympic training routine and reveals what his winning motto is these days.
Name: Maris Srombergs
Team: Free Agent/Rockstar
About.com: What are your first memories of biking?
I got my first BMX bike when I was six years old, and, like all kids, we spent our time racing out in the street in front of the house. It wasn’t long before I was really competing—I have to thank my dad for this. He bought me my first Powerlite—wow! What a bike!
About.com: How did you get hooked on BMX riding?
It was my dad who kept me going, firing me up and bringing me out to the races. I won my first World Championship when I was nine years old—that was the UCI’s first official BMX World Championship in England in 1996, when I won the the category for boys. After that, naturally, there was no turning back!
About.com: What do you feel is your greatest biking accomplishment so far?
Well, sure, it was winning the first BMX Olympic Gold Medal in Beijing in 2008. That year, they made me BMX World Champion. But I’m keeping my average up, and this year I won the UCI SX World Cup, so my hopes are high for London in 2012, too.
About.com: How does it feel to be representing your country in the 2012 Olympics?
I’m really proud to be riding for Latvia, and leading the team for the second time. We have really strong, dedicated riders, and I’m looking forward to giving my best again in London. Even though I’ve lived in the States for the past three years, my roots are set in Riga…ask my Mom. She gave me a pillow with the Latvian colors for my birthday, and it’s the centerpiece of my California living room.
About.com: Walk us through your typical training routine for the Olympics.
Well, I’m home in Latvia this month doing my training schedule with Ivo Lukucs, who’s not just my trainer, but also the Latvian BMX National Team trainer. It’s a balance of managing my training time so that I don’t overdo, but also stay in prime tuning. Overdoing always brings the danger of injury. But I get enough sleep, eat right and stay away from the alcohol. My energy drinks are better!
About.com: How do you deal with the physical and emotional stress of racing?
BMX isn’t really stress for me. It’s my life and my occupation. Healthy stress is what lets me win! But I wouldn’t be this far if I didn’t maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow a disciplined training schedule. My coaches, Dale Holmes and Ivo Lakucs, are also my friends, and we stay in the flow—we’re a great team!
About.com: Do you have advice for mountain bikers who are just getting started?
Have fun and enjoy it. That’s what it’s all about—especially at the beginning! There’s a surfboard hanging in my garage, which I got as a prize when I won the Supercross in 2009. On it, it says, “Focus and train your thoughts”. And that’s my winning motto today.
About.com: Feel free to include anything else!
When I’m not on the track, I make regular visits with my coach, Dale, to local schools and children’s clinics. Velo Saddles is a big help here, supporting us with saddles to give away to the kids, and that really makes them feel important. We know our sport has a big influence on young people, and we think it’s important to share what we know about a healthy lifestyle: eating the right foods, being active and, yes, doing the right thing…even when no one’s looking!