WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Ryan Nyquist is going to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. USA Cycling recently named the three-time world champion as the head coach of the organization’s first BMX Freestyle teams that will compete for gold medals.
“I’d like to think of it on the same level as what ESPN did for us with the X Games,” Nyquist said of the sport’s debut in the 2020 Games. “The fact that we are in there and bring it to that broader audience. From everything I hear we have a really great TV spot. You know some of these sports are on at 2:00 a.m. We have some pretty great tv slots. This is a really awesome opportunity for us.”
Nyquist remembers the X Games influence because he lived it as a young rider new to the professional ranks. Nyquist made his debut in the 1997 games, winning a Bronze Medal in the BMX Dirt events. He won the first of his four Gold Medals three years later, also in BMX Dirt, while also winning Bronze in BMX Street. He swept both golds in 2003, and also won the 2004 ESPY Award for Best Action Sports Athlete. His world championships came in 2007 and 2009, in the AST Dew Tour BMX Dirt Dew Cup, and 2013 in the AST Dew Tour Park Dew Cup. Nyquist has continued to compete and find success against the best riders in the world. He says the knowledge he gained in competition will help him as a coach.
“When I was kind of applying for the job, I said ‘I’ve been competing against these guys, so I know their weaknesses’,” the 40-year-old California native says. “When I rolled over into coach those weaknesses, instead of focusing in on how I can take advantage of that, it became ‘how do I fix that now’.”
Nyquist lived and trained in Greenville, North Carolina for years. That’s where he met his wife Ali, and together they moved their three boys to Wilmington in 2018. She owns Amplify, a cycling-themed gym and physical fitness center. Ryan built a ramp in his yard, and he uses it to keep his riding skills sharp. Nyquist has invited some Olympic hopefuls to his ramp to train and sees Wilmington as a place where BMX riding can flourish.
“There’s a really great scene in Raleigh, two hours away,” Nyquist says. ”I would love to see it close by here because I feel it really just fits with the culture, you know, surf, great town, we have great weather pretty much all year long. It kind of all works, so why not do some more?”
Nyquist will lead the U-S riders into the U-S-A Cycling Freestyle Championships and then the Pan American Championships. Both will be held this October in Cary.