Medal-winning Olympian
Mike Day, BMX Racer and SCV-Track Proponent makes his Mark on the International Stage
November, 2008 - Issue #49
Mike Day
Mike Day
Steve Day had to apologize.

The sounds in the background were overriding his voice as he spoke about his son Mike.

So in a polite manner, in between the rumble of wheels on dirt and wind whooshing by, he said, "I'm sorry."

Causing some of the rumble and whoosh was his 14-year-old son, Matt.

The father-son combo made the 45-minute drive down to Simi Valley's Sycamore BMX raceway on a Wednesday night because Valencia no longer has a BMX track.

The trek marked a special occasion.
It was the first time in three, maybe four years that Matt rode his bicycle on a track.

"I felt really good," Matt said, just an hour after his ride.

It felt like he'd never abandoned the sport.

"I went to the Olympic Trials in Chula Vista [in June] and saw Mike ride and thought, it looks fun," Matt said.
Matt later watched his big brother Mike on TV in August, tuning in regularly around midnight.

Big brother Mike Day, 2008-Olympic-silver-medalist-in-Bicycle-Motocross, has made a difference for his little brother.

He could make larger ones in the future.

"I don't mind carrying it," said Mike, of the torch for his sport. "My main goal is to go back [to the Olympics] in four years. I will do everything I can to make sure it happens in four years. [In the meantime] I don't mind helping people out, showing them the ropes, doing clinics. If I'm the lead guy, that's fine. I'll take it."

That's how Day is being marketed - as the lead guy for the burgeoning sport.
The 2002 Valencia High graduate made history August 22 in Beijing with his silver-medal-winning ride in the Olympics.

It was the debut for the sport in the games, a sport that many people are still uninformed about.

Simply, it entails a one-lap sprint on bicycles on a 370-meter mostly dirt track.

There is a near-three-story drop that begins the race, and riders must navigate over windy, hilly terrain.
Because of a disappointing semifinal run that left him to start in lane number four in the final, Day said he was at a disadvantage for not getting the coveted number-one lane.

He got too much air on an early jump, further affecting his performance.Nonetheless, Day trudged on, his father in the stands supporting him and his brother some 6,000-plus miles away watching on TV.

"I was really proud of him," Steve said. "I was excited and nervous - all of those things."

As was his little brother.

"I was kind of nervous, trying to keep my temper down," Matt said.

Latvian rider Maris Strombergs finished first at 36.190 seconds, followed by Day at 36.606 seconds.

"It's me on the starting gate. Me having butterflies. But it's so many people involved to make it easy for me," Mike said. "It means the world that I could do it for me and them."
Mike said there is no disappointment in finishing second.

He's come a long way. He started riding as an 8 year old. On his ninth birthday, his father entered him in his first race. He won, though Mike said it wasn't a big deal. At 10, he had a sponsor.

Two years later, he was having a major Los Angeles newspaper writing an article about him.

Since then, he's had medal after medal draped over his head. And it all started so simply.

BMX race tracks traditionally feature near three-story drops.
BMX race tracks traditionally feature near three-story drops.
It was a chance for him and his father to bond.

Mike's passion began with casual riding after seeing his older brother, Dave compete.

Mike's first bike wasn't a competition bike. In fact, Steve knew little about the sport.

But Steve soon found out that his son was special.

"Probably like a year and a half after riding, I knew," he said. "There were a lot of good kids on the track, but I could tell Mike had something. He just loved riding his bike, loved racing. That made him better. I don't know, he just did what it took to get better."

Mike recalled being in disbelief when he heard that BMX had become an Olympic sport. He dedicated his life to making the 2008 games.

The only long-term job he's ever had is BMX, so it wasn't difficult.

He worked at a smoothie shop in Canyon Country when he was younger. That lasted just two months and then he was back on the bike.

More recently, Mike moved to Chula Vista, where a replica of the Beijing track was built.

Mike still lives in Santa Clarita, but needed to be closer to the track to get a better edge going into the Olympics.
Since returning from Beijing in late August, Mike has been on a whirlwind tour.

He's been besieged by media, made an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show and has made other appearances for sponsors.

Mike Day's the big deal in BMX now.
On the day his brother returned to the track, Mike was in a meeting with some of his sponsors. He was laying the groundwork for a trip to London in 2012.

The 24-year-old's goals are now set on London for the 2012 Olympic Games.
He'll return to Santa Clarita soon. It's not just a return home.

Mike has purpose.

He would like to see the Santa Clarita Valley once again have a place for children to race.

He'd like to see his brother accomplish what he accomplished. The Olympian got his start here as a 9 year old, testing out his ability at Valencia Raceway.

"In Santa Clarita, we need to get another track," he said. "We had a track there, then they shut it down. It was coming back, then it kept getting denied and denied. When I finally do come back, I would love to get them a track back."

Valencia Raceway went out of business a couple of years ago.

There has been talk that a BMX track could be added to the Santa Clarita Sports Complex when and if the city builds another phase to the facility.

Nonetheless, Day has made at least one difference.

Ask his brother - the brother who now wants to become a professional BMX rider.

"Throughout my life, I've been riding bikes," Matt said.

But then he stopped riding when the local track was taken away, and his interests changed. They've now changed again.

"To see my brother get to the Olympics, it's a life-changing event. It spiked my mind about BMX again."
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