What does BMX mean to one of our oldest members?
COVER PIC: Hans Smit with his great grandson’s loving BMX. (Pic courtesy: Townsville BMX Club Facebook page)
There are a lot of sports like golf, lawn bowls and croquet that someone can do for their entire lives. Often, when people think of extreme sports they tend to think they are specifically for the young, but that isn’t the case in the world of BMX.
BMX is a sport for all ages and it is proven in multiple countries. Take a look at the story below.
Now USA’s Al Richard may be 66 years old, but our very own Hans Smit from Townsville BMX Club beats him by another half a dozen years and is one of our oldest shredders on Aussie tracks.
Born in 1946, Smit has been a member of the North Queensland club for nearly eight years and his biggest wish is that the sport was as big when he was a young whipper snapper 60 years ago.
“My great grandson started BMX at the age of five and the enjoyment on his face captured my interest to the sport straight away. If he can do that, so can I,” Smit said.
“I’ve been riding bikes all my life and I thought I’d give it a go… I loved it.”
Spending time with his family is what Smit cherishes above all else and what better way to spend time with them than on a BMX track.
His granddaughter, Therese Lynch, and his two great grandsons, Ethan (5 years) and Christopher (12 years) Heagney, are also at Townsville and alongside providing enjoyment, it has also been a massive life changing experience for him.
“I weighed 120kg’s and was diagnosed with diabetes when I first began racing. I started just for the fun of it and I soon realised that my whole motivation had changed including my eating habits, my exercise routine and my overall health. I now weigh in at 85kg’s.”
Remarkably, Smit has never ventured further than the North Queensland Zone and usually sticks to his clubby events to satisfy his BMX thirst. At the moment his racing days have been haulted due to some medical issues, but he is itching to get himself back on the track.
“I’m waiting on some results to come through and it looks like more scans are on the way. But every time I go to renew my licence I keep thinking I’m going to retire after this one. But I just keep coming back. Maybe next time,” he laughed.
Like many BMXA family members, Smit has fallen in love with the friendships, atmosphere and camaraderie that stems from the local clubs, zones, states and the national level of BMX in Australia.
There is one underlying wish that the 72-year-old has and it’s something that must resonate with many of our older members.
“If I had one wish, it would be that I was 12 years old again and be able to race with my great grandson. I would love to be young and do the sort of things that they do and the enjoyment on their faces is something that I missed out on with my childhood.”
If the sport was where it is now when Smit was a sprocket rocket, he would’ve been there at the drop of a hat.
He may not be currently riding on the Townsville track, but Smit still works very hard for the club as a committee member and on gate nights throughout the week. He loves doing what he does, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“When you’re in a club, it’s always the same people that help out and they are fully committed to the cause. I love to be part of it and I try to help out wherever I’m allowed to,” Smit smiled.
(Helping at Townsville BMX Club – Pic courtesy of Townsville BMX Club Facebook page)
His age never stopping him, Smit has dedicated a lot of his time to BMX and his knowledge of the sport and his message to the younger riders is a simple one.
“Have fun,” he said.
“It’s a shame to see parents trying to force their kids to do things that they’re not ready for and it takes away from what the kids want to do.
“Kids live in their own world and once they’re on that bike, they’re Sam Willoughby or Caroline Buchanan and they can do whatever they want.
“They don’t care whether they’re first or last. I know that it is a competitive and complex sport but the thing I’ve noticed is that across all age groups, they do it because they enjoy what they’re doing and have fun doing it.
“You see them at the finish line with smiles on all their faces. You don’t see that at football.”
Words of wisdom from one of our elite elders. Ride BMX, love BMX and share BMX. Age is but a number.