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Olympian ready to showcase his sport

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—Donny Robinson is looking forward to showing the world what BMX cycling is all about.

The California native makes his Olympic debut Tuesday night in Beijing, as BMX cycling is an Olympic event for the first time.

“We’ve continued to race whether there’s $700 on the line or, now, Olympic glory on the line,” Robinson said about his fellow competitors. “It’s something we do because we love it -– but now to finally have the kind of recognition and to put us on the world stage is something that we really can’t even describe right now.”

The Olympic BMX track is about 300-400 meters in length and features high technical jumps and other obstacles designed for world’s best BMX racers.

Robinson certainly fits that description. He won the inaugural USA Cycling BMX National Championship in 2007 and currently is first in world ranking points. He said the increasing popularity of the sport -– and its inclusion as an Olympic event — is a nice affirmation for those who have been competing for years.

“We’ve all had numerous new sponsors and TV time that we’ve never had before,” Robinson said. “But I don’t think until we walk into Beijing and are then truly a part of the Olympics, will we realize how big this thing is.”

He is especially hopeful that the added publicity will shed more light on the legitimacy of BMX as a sport -– that it’s not just a group of “punk kids” looking for thrills on a bicycle.

“We are athletes,” Robinson said. “We watch what we eat. We have to train every day. We’re totally conscious of the responsibility that we have to be role models to the kids.”

Robinson’s love for the sport began when he was only 6. He went out to the local track in Napa, Calif., one day, and from that point he was hooked.

“It was something I never got tired of,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be the best, and it’s kind of a great time now to educate parents and kids of new generations about this sport.”

But BMX was something more than just a hobby for Robinson. It also played a part in his journey to faith in Christ. His family didn’t go to church, and when he was 12 years old, the team manager for his BMX team was a Christian. The manager often played Christian music like Keith Green on trips with the team and lived the kind of life in which Robinson could see a difference in him.

Robinson was also influenced by his dance teacher, another Christian witness in his life.

“It kind of made me realize that there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be giving my life to the Lord,” he said.

So Robinson did just that and was baptized during his teenage years. Now, at 24, Robinson wants to use his position as a world-class BMX cyclist to have a similar impact upon others.

“BMX as a sport is not really one where you see a lot of Christian athletes speak out about their beliefs,” he said. “I understand that everything that I’ve been given and been allowed to do is because of Christ. I don’t think of anything that I do as being something that I’ve done on my own.

“I’m thankful that God has allowed me to have that success,” he continued. “The reason that I’m going to the Olympics … is because God said, ‘This is your talent and this is how you’re going to have people see Me.'”
Tim Ellsworth, director of news and media relations at Union University who was in Beijing Aug. 6-16, is continuing his coverage of the 2008 Olympics for Baptist Press.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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