A group of young BMX riders in Warman are getting the inside track on racing this week from someone who knows a thing or two about the sport.
Tory Nyhaug represented Canada at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, highlighted by a fifth-place finish at the Rio Games. He also won gold at the 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto and silver at the 2014 World Championships.
Now retired from competition, he’s turned his attention to coaching.
“I still love the sport and love sharing the knowledge I learned. As an athlete, I learned so much about the sport and I really enjoy passing it along to the next generation now,” he said.
Nyhaug is in the city for a series of camps hosted by the Diamond BMX Club. Like any good coach, he starts with the basics.
“I really like to break things down and work on fundamentals, so whether it’s pumping, manualling, jumping, proper gate form, I really like to work on the technical aspects so they have the tools then to take that into racing when they do,” he said.
Ten-year-old Cameron Ryon was among the first group of riders to hit the track with Nyhaug on Wednesday.
“He’s training us more than a normal trainer would and he’s teaching us to balance and stuff better, pump through the wind, go on the rollers better, do jumps,” Ryon explained.
In addition to teaching his young charges the fundamentals of BMX racing, Nyhaug also serves as an example of how far someone can go in the sport if they choose to pursue it.
It wasn’t that long ago, in fact, that a 16-year-old Nyhaug was looking up to the Canadian riders competing in the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing.
“I was so excited to watch the racing. It really inspired me to be an Olympian and after going to two Olympic Games myself, I hope kids follow in my footsteps, especially in Canada, and get to the Olympics like I did,” he said.
Young riders like Ryon are still wrapping their heads around the possibility.
“It’s weird how (BMX) is an Olympic sport because it just started out like riding a bike on a dirt track and it’s pretty cool how it turned into an Olympic sport and how you can get medals and stuff,” he said.
With the sport’s continued growth in the province, aided by the development of new tracks like the one in Warman, it may not be long before a rider from Saskatchewan is chasing an Olympic dream of their own.
“The track here is good. It’s really big, especially for Canada. It’s a really good quality track and I think if you have good coaching and a good track there’s no reason why a kid can’t turn into an Olympic athlete,” Nyhaug said.
In the meantime, it’s back to the track for another lesson.