SARASOTA, Fla. -- Sarasota continues to be a magnet for the world's top athletes. First Cuba's Olympians in rowing spent July training at Benderson Park. This month is the world's elite BMX riders including both defending gold medalists and one local Olympian competes in her first games.
“Riders ready, watch the gate.” Next time Amanda Carr takes this 35-foot drop from the starting gate it will be in Rio.
Amanda Carr, BMX Olympian says, “Yes it’s a dream come true…something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Amanda is wrapping up her final training before the Olympics at Sarasota’s new Olympic Class BMX track but she’s not alone. There are 11 other athletes from countries including two defending gold medalists.
“The track is great,” says Amanda.
The 26-year-old started riding when she was 5. She’s been training in Punta Gorda—an hour south of Sarasota.
“It’s a really fast-paced cut throat sport,” says Amanda.
And when that gate drops, Amanda says, “All bets are off. You can cut each other off, move over on each other, bump in the air—it happens.”
The sport is physically challenging. “We’re the equivalent of a 400 meter runner in terms of speed and our size,” explains Amanda.
But there’s more to being the best. She says, “It’s 70 percent mental”
Coach Paul Williams handles the mental strategy at game time. Williams tells her, “You’re one of the top 16 fastest women in the world; enjoy the moment.”
Amanda says, “The best advice coach has given me is to be a competitor; [something] that I’ve been my whole life.”
Amanda has dual citizenship. She attended the opening ceremony representing her mother’s country of Thailand.
“My parents raised me to understand both cultures. I know both of my families. So the American and Thai flag fly evenly for me,” says Amanda.
Despite the outcome next week, Amanda says she’s already a winner.
Amanda says, “Now I’m fulfilling that dream being able to stand at the start gate, live in the village with top athletes of the world. My heart is full, I’m definitely fulfilled.”
The BMX Olympians also chose Sarasota because it's in the same time zone as Rio and shares the same climate.
The teams leave for Rio tomorrow. The BMX games debuted in the Olympics in 2008. Amanda and the other BMX riders compete next week.
The Sarasota BMX track will host the World BMX Championship from October 8-9 and many of the Olympians will be back to compete.
To learn more about Carr's journey, click HERE.