The tiny Baltic nation of Latvia, dubbed the world’s superpower of BMX racing, will host two rounds of the European BMX championship on June 8-9, the organizers said. They expect BMX fans from abroad to be lured to Riga, the capital of Latvia, in big droves to see the 9th and 10th rounds of the championship which will take place in Mezaparks race track, one of the most modern and challenging in Europe.
"This weekend BMX enthusiasts will have an excellent chance to follow this prestigious sports event in Latvia. Hopes are high for Latvian racer Maris Strombergs, the two-times Olympic champion. We expect him to take the highest rank at the European championship once again," told Aigars Ernstsons, the organizer of the BMX rounds in Riga.
BMX has flourished in Latvia in recent years after Strombergs, known as the “Machine” in BMX racing, made history when he won the first ever Olympic gold medal in BMX racing back in 2008. Strombergs has also been crowned the world champion and won the European championships the same year. The Latvian BMX star demonstrated both his commitment and skill when he won the gold once again during the 2012 London Olympic Games.
After eight rounds of the current European championship Strombergs has grabbed the decisive lead. He is followed by another Latvian elite BMX rider, Edzus Treimanis. In total ten Latvian elite BMX athletes have demonstrated outstanding results during the competition.
Igo Japins, the president of the Latvian Cycling Federation (LCF), is confident that Latvia has a good chance to retain its BMX superpower status." All the preconditions for that are in place," he said.
In Latvia, a country with a population of just about two million, there are nearly three hundred BMX athletes, and their number is growing steadily with every year.
Also, the number of BMX clubs is mushrooming. According to the LCF data, at present there are 12 BMX clubs in Latvia, and during the last two years their number has increased by three.
Besides, the reconstruction of the race track has started at Strombergs' native city Valmiera, some 100 kilometers to the north-east from Riga. Several BMX race track projects are being developed in the town of Smiltene and other places known for their long-grown BMX traditions, told Japins.
"Many foreigners are admiring the long lasting success of Latvian BMX elite men. They are wondering how it is possible to produce so many high class athletes in such a little country. Foreign fans, athletes and their family members are getting ready to come to Latvia with a hope to discover the key to such achievements," said Olafs Lakucs, vice-president of the LCF.
Totally more than three hundred BMX riders from 16 countries are going to take part in Riga BMX rounds, and more than a third of them will be from Latvia.
Latvia also cherishes an ambition to stage the BMX World Cup, an even more prestigious event, in several years.
"This could become a reality if we carry out a track building project in Valmiera. This track would be compatible with the standards necessary to organize the World Cup. The track is planned to be ready by 2015," said Lakucs.
The European BMX championship consisting of 12 rounds started in France on April 6-7. The next rounds took place in the Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden. The 9th and the 10th rounds will be held in Latvia (June 8-9). The final of the championship will take place in Belgium in the middle of July.
The organizers of the event in Latvia are sports club Rigas Favorits and the LCF. Their cooperation partners are the Riga City Council and the European Cycling Union.