Never underestimate the heart of an Olympic medalist.
Since Napa’s Donny Robinson won the BMX bronze medal at the Beijing Games in 2008, the majority of his post-Olympic experience has been full of crashes, injuries, and bad luck in general.
That all changed last week at the 2012 UCI BMX World Championships in Birmingham, UK, as Robinson super-charged his shot at another Olympic bid this summer with a sixth-place finish.
He officially got some more welcome news Thursday, as USA Cycling announced he will be one of eight athletes who will compete in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials for BMX on June 16 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
“Basically the last two years have been super rough,” said a relieved and tired Robinson after a training session on Thursday evening. “I had just never been able to find my groove.”
In fact, he may have had more collapsed lungs than victories in that time span.
“I mean, 2006 to 2009 were just amazing. I kind of forgot all of the hardships I had before then. Getting knocked down was super tough, but I don’t want to succeed for just me. It’s gone farther than that, all the sponsors, all the people standing behind me, I want to do it for them, too.”
To say Robinson, who rides for Hyper Bicycles, picked a great time for his best overall effort since Beijing is a massive understatement.
“I knew going in that ‘the World Cup is my last shot. It either happens now or it doesn’t happen.’ It was perfect. It really went the way it needed to.”
With the overall winner of the trials earning an automatic nomination to the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, the other competitors include:
• Connor Fields (Henderson, Nev./Chase BMX)
• Nic Long (Lakeside, Calif./Haro Bikes)
• Mike Day (San Diego, Calif./GT Bicycles)
• Barry Nobles (Menifee, Calif./DK Bicycles)
• Corben Sharrah (Tucson, Ariz./GT Bicycles)
• Joey Bradford (Monterey, Calif./Prophecy BMX)
• Josh Meyers (Treasure Island, Fla./Ssquared-Answer).
Following the World Championships last weekend, David Herman (Wheat Ridge, Colo./Free Agent-Rockstar) has also been nominated to the Long Team, but will not compete at the trials.
Herman has already secured an automatic nomination to the Olympic team as the overall leader of the 2012 USA Cycling BMX Power Rankings.
Fields (second), Long (third), Day (fourth) and Nobles (fifth) all earned automatic nominations to the Long Team and invitations to the trials by virtue of their top-five ranking in the final standings of the 2012 USA Cycling BMX Power Rankings.
Robinson, Sharrah, Bradford and Meyers were all discretionary nominations to the Long Team and were extended invitations to the trials based on various factors, including UCI BMX World Championship results and UCI BMX Supercross World Cup results.
Robinson said Fields was actually the points leader over Herman — the only American ahead of Robinson in Birmingham — for the majority of the season, but that Herman edged him out over the last couple of races.
Robinson said that two spots on the Olympic team are technically up for grabs, but that Fields would most likely be the third pick by the coaches based on his overall body of work this year.
Meaning, there might actually only be one spot for seven other riders.
That makes it pretty simple in Robinson’s eyes.
“I have to win the trials,” said Robinson, who turns 29 the day after.
The June 16 trials will feature six laps, starting with a pair of individual time trials.
The second time trial will be for points toward the overall total.
It will also count toward lane choice for the next three motos, which will feature the top six riders.
From there, after the third moto, the top four move on to a one-lap final race.
“One lap, no crap, the winner goes to the Olympics,” said Robinson.
Tyler Faoro (Coral Springs, Fla./Phoenix-Profile) was also named the replacement athlete, designating him eligible to replace any athlete who experiences injury, illness, or any unforeseen incident prior to the start of the event.
As the top-ranked athlete in the USA Cycling BMX Power Rankings on the women’s side, Arielle Martin (Spanaway, Wash./Intense BMX) will receive an automatic nomination to the final Olympic team.
One additional female will receive a nomination to the Olympic BMX squad on June 18.
The final nominations for the U.S. Olympic team for BMX are set to be announced on June 18.
All nominations are subject to approval by the USOC board of directors.
One benefit of Robinson’s struggles over the last couple of years — and his subsequent success at the World Championships — was that it provided a powerful message for his youth mentoring opportunities.
“It’s just something else to share — you can’t give up, because you never know,” he said.
More information on cycling in the Olympic Games, including complete selection procedures, can be found at usacycling.org/olympics