It’s not every day a reigning Olympic champion rolls into town but that will be the case when Rio BMX gold medallist Connor Fields makes the trip to Shepparton for the opening two rounds of the 2020 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in February.
COVER PIC: Connor Fields competing at round two of the 2018 National Series.
Like most elite BMXers the number one goal for American Fields in 2020 is the Olympic Games in Tokyo at the end of July, but the road to the Japanese capital starts for almost all in the Goulburn Valley.
Fields, who trains under Australian coach Sean Dwight, is yet to visit Shepparton but has plans to make several trips to the track in the coming weeks.
“I have seen some races from Shepparton before such as the 2019 Australian national championships,” Fields said.
“It looks pretty good and I am excited for a new stop on the world cup circuit. I plan on getting out there a couple times before the event to make sure I have the track as dialled in as possible before the big events!”
The Olympic qualification process is complicated for the layman but in simple terms, performing well as an individual during the world cup and world championships in 2019 and 2020 can see a rider build UCI rankings points for their nation in a bid to lock in Olympic quota spots – or put another way, one of 24 places on the start gate in Tokyo.
From there each country fills their quota positions with their top riders and then the best of the best race off at sport’s biggest showcase. Some countries will have three representatives, some two and some just one.
With all that in mind, Fields knows the importance of kicking off 2020 with a solid showing on the Shepparton strip.
“I’d love to get off to a good start,” the 27-year-old said.
“It’s always easier to carry momentum than create it, so I’ll be doing everything I can to put in some good results at the opening rounds.
“Performing well at the world cup rounds is how the countries can qualify spots for the Games, so in that regard it is very important.
“Once things kick off in Tokyo, all the other scores are wiped off the board and the only thing that the world cups will have done is create or hurt confidence.
“So it is crucial to perform well to qualify for Tokyo and to go in with some confidence.”
Winning back to back Olympic gold medals in BMX is possible.
Latvia’s Maris Strombergs won the men’s event in 2008 and 2012, while Colombia’s Marijana Pajon, who is expected to race in Shepparton, took out Olympic titles in London (2012) and Rio (2016).
With that in mind, Fields knows what is required to get the job done next year, although he’s less sure on who he will have to beat to do it.
“Step one is qualify for Tokyo. Then, once there, you have to be back in the final to have a chance at a medal,” he explained.
“I’ve been to two Olympics already so I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to get there and how to perform on the day, so I will draw from those experiences in the lead up.
“If you are at the Olympics you are a very, very good BMX racer and you have a chance.
“It would be impossible to say only two or three guys to beat.”
While Fields will be firmly focussed on qualifying for the USA team, he is well versed to speak on the form and talent of some young Aussies, including one of his training partners, Australian elite national champion Izaac Kennedy.
“Clearly Izaac has shown he is extremely talented with earning a national title and a world cup podium in only his first-year racing in the elite category,” Fields said of Queenslander Kennedy.
“Those are a couple of things that not many racers can achieve at any age. I look forward to watching his progression over the next few years.”
Two names to watch in Shepparton next February – Olympic champion Connor Fields and Aussie champ Izaac Kennedy!
Courtesy of the BMXworldcup.com page.