LONDON – Fil-American Danny Caluag has tried almost any sport on wheels – biking on the road or on the oval, mountain-biking, downhill or cross-country riding – but nothing excites him more than putting himself on the saddle over the most rugged, punishing dirt road and getting bruises in between.
That's enough to give his Filipino parents, who migrated to the US many years back, regular nightmares and occasional high blood pressure when he comes home with a bandage. But Caluag, 25, admits he is simply stubborn.
Not stubborn. Only adventurous.
When not in the streets, this American-bred Pinoy with roots in Bulacan, is in school, at Lindzey College where he and wife Stephanie, his girlfriend of 11 years, are taking up nursing.
Caluag was the four-time BMX National Rider of the US and has figured prominently in international tournaments, three of which earned him the lone Asian slot in the BMX competitions of the London Games.
The event is making its debut in the Olympics, making the winner the first-ever gold medalist of the event in the Games.
Simply put, BMX is motocross on a bicycle. So it requires more than just skill. It requires daring and some call the two-meter fall in the sport death-defying.
No big deal for the country's gold medal bet who says doing difficult things is just a matter of believing in oneself.
According to the manual for the event, the BMX track in London features a combination of high technical jumps – over two meters or two floors of a building – obstacles, and tightly-banked corners and is 450 meters long.
"I have seen the course. Not so difficult but every track is different. If that's 3 meters, it's super tough," said Caluag, who's been to some of the challenging courses on BMX.
"My training in Switzerland before I came here was fantastic. It helped me prepare well for London. Looking at the London course, I think the bikers are going to race fast, but I will not. I will just let hold, I'm just going to do what I have to do to compete. I'm confident," he added.
The event in London starts with a seeding phase where each rider will run the track once to determine the seeding for the first elimination phase – the quarterfinals. This will ensure the fastest riders do not meet before the final.
The event starts with a starting field of 32, reduced top 24 in the quarterfinals, 16 in the semifinals and eight who will vie for the gold, silver and bronze medals in the final round.
Despite his accomplishments in the US, Caluag believes he won’t be a marked man in London.
"I am aware that many people see me as a medal potential, and this is a big boost, but I am also facing the toughest opponents in the sport. My training and experience and the support I get from my wife, my coach and friends prepared me well for the event," he added.