Bruce climbs to another level | News, Sports, Jobs
A native of Hubbard, Nick Bruce always believed that taking part in the X Games was going to be the highlight of his freestyle BMX career. Because of the impact he was going to have on the younger generation, he was okay with that.
Bruce fell in love with the sport watching the annual event when he was younger. So he always aspired to have the opportunity to perform at this level and perhaps inspire young riders.
Bruce’s aspirations changed when the International Olympic Committee added BMX Freestyle to the Olympics in 2017.
Suddenly getting to Tokyo, representing his country and having a bigger impact on young runners was all he was focusing on.
After four years of competing and waiting, Bruce will realize his dream when he travels to Tokyo as a member of the US team to compete in the first-ever BMX freestyle event at the Olympics. The freestyle BMX competition will take place July 31 and August 1 at Ariake Urban Sports Park.
“The fact that I will be able to play on the bigger stage, on an even bigger stage than the X Games, and potentially inspire more young children, like the way I was inspired, is a huge privilege and j ‘I’m delighted., “ Bruce said.
” It’s really unbelievable. We first heard that our sport would be at the Olympics in 2017, and since then I knew I wanted this more than anything. So the fact that everything went well is pretty crazy.
Getting to this point in his career has been a long journey for the 2011 Hubbard High School graduate and Youngstown State alumnus.
When he was young, Bruce was always on his bike, finding places to ride. But, when the area’s indoor parks began to close, Bruce said he had started to give up the sport.
He got his fix once a month by taking a trip to Cleveland, but when he was 14 or 15, which is a good time to start a career in sports, he said he started to focus more. on other things. Playing baseball, working with his dad, and other activities took up the majority of his time and his bike fell off its side.
“I kind of fell into it and didn’t really think about it until I graduated (high school)”, Bruce said.
When Bruce arrived at Youngstown State, BMX started to take center stage again.
“I scheduled my lessons to be able to ride afterwards and have more time on my bike, and that turned everything upside down”, Bruce said. “I started riding more and had that extra spark and couldn’t imagine myself without riding.”
The after-class riding sessions turned into winning amateur competitions, allowing Bruce to enter professional competitions. Fairly quickly, he was traveling for events more than he was in class, and he began to see his future taking shape.
“It was the first time, around the age of 21, where I was like ‘Wow, I could really do that as a professional'” Bruce, who is now 29, said. “Then I’ve kind of chased him ever since. “
Prior to qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, Bruce competed at the 2017 X Games and placed fourth in the BMX dirt event. He returned again in 2019 after missing the 2018 competition due to injury. He also competed at the World Championships, winning a bronze medal in 2019 and a fifth place last year, which cemented his place on the Olympic team.
“At that time, I was not qualified (for the Olympics). I qualified as a substitute, but I was not sure, so I was extremely disappointed ”, Bruce said. “Then something happened after the pandemic, or during the pandemic, and this opportunity presented itself to solidify my place. I did not relax. I kept training during the pandemic and knew I was completely ready for it.
“It didn’t exactly go as planned, I wanted to do better but I did exactly what I needed to do to qualify for the Olympics.”
It was the conclusion of a four-year wait where Bruce had to stay on top of his game while placing the best he could in each competition. He also had to find a way to stay in shape during the coronavirus pandemic.
It wasn’t easy, but Bruce found a way to do it. Right before the pandemic hit, Bruce finished building his own indoor park, which allows him to train whenever he wants.
“I think it makes the biggest difference, just in terms of my confidence on my bike and feeling like a strong rider and competitor.” Bruce said. “I know I’m ready. I know I would have made it work without it, if I didn’t have it. But the fact that I have it and have used it to the fullest in the last year and a half, I know it has helped me so much to ride.
Now, heading into the biggest competition of his life, Bruce feels like he’s in top form.
“I feel the strongest I have ever felt, like in terms of confidence and stuff” Bruce said. “I feel really good, I’m in a good position and I feel more relieved than anything that the qualifying process is over. Now I can just enjoy it more. That’s all I’m really looking forward to.