Local BMX rider qualifies for world championship 

AJ Martin, 10, is set to compete in the BMX world championship on May 14. Courtesy photo.
AJ Martin, 10, is set to compete in the BMX world championship on May 14. Courtesy photo.

AJ Martin is only 10 years old but is already making a name for himself in the world of BMX.

A student at Emblem Academy, Martin is set to compete in the 11-year-old division at the Union Cycliste Internationale BMX Racing World Championships on May 14 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He qualified by finishing fourth at the Blue Ridge Nationals held in Lexington, Virginia, in February. 

“I wasn’t really expecting to make it, but I was expecting to at least get close to making it,” Martin said in a phone interview. “But then once I got in the gate, I was just focusing, and then once I passed the finish line, I was surprised that I made it.” 

Racing for Davis Racewear, Martin has been riding bikes competitively since he was 6 years old. He was dubbed “The Rocket” due to his propensity to always jump out of the gates, according to his mom, Heather. 

AJ got his first racing bike in 2020 after breaking his regular bike, but he didn’t like it at first due to the different geometry. 

“And then somebody else was like, ‘You should go racing,’” Heather said. “And so they invited us to a Whittier track and we went for a practice night and he rode all night. And he said, ‘When are we coming back?’ Pretty much it went downhill from there.” 

Roughly 3,500 riders representing more than 45 countries are scheduled to compete at the world championships over a six-day stretch, according to a news release. Rock Hill is one of only two cities in the United States, along with Lexington, Kentucky, to host the world championships since 2000. The event has also been recently held in Glasgow, Scotland; Nantes, France; and Arnhem, Netherlands. Rock Hill also hosted it in 2017. 

The world stage isn’t fazing AJ, though. 

“I’m not that nervous, but I am at the same time,” AJ said. “Just nervous because I’ve never been to that track.” 

Currently having to travel to Whittier, Bakersfield or Bellflower to practice, AJ and his family are hoping that one day, he can have a track in Santa Clarita that he can call his own. His dad, Jeremy, said that with six days of practice a week, it can be a lot of travel. 

“It’s something that we’ve been promoting for many years now, and I think we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with the bike park and the city,” Jeremy said. “So, can’t wait for them to get it going so we don’t have to drive an hour and a half every day, every week.” 

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