I have the feeling that during the past few months I have been getting back to my normal self. If that translates into good race results we'll have to see. It's never that I didn't like riding BMX but for a while I didn't feel like putting the work in. Maybe I set the bar too high. The question came up of why I raced; do I race because I want to race, or do I race because others expect me to race.
In BMX Racing it’s easy to make a mistake and the result doesn’t reflect your form. How do you deal with that when that happens?
Niek Kimmann: It’s always possible to have a bad day but if you’re in top shape you don’t put yourself into those situations. If you look at Romain Mahieu’s 2023 season, in Sarrians he was eliminated in the quarter finals so it’s possible it happens, but other than that he made it to the podium most of the time. If you’re not good, it’s possible to be lucky one time but you’ll be in a bad situation more often. When I’m feeling good I’m not saying I will win, but I belong in the final or on the podium and if you are shooting for the podium, you can also win.
What’s your preparation like for 2024?
Niek Kimmann: That’s a good question. In the past I’ve worked well with Liam Phillips for a couple of years but I’m a person who is always looking for new challenges. That’s also the reason that I moved to Switzerland to train with Liam to prepare for Tokyo2020. I had the feeling that I was ready for a new challenge so at the moment I’m writing my own training program and do everything on my own. I realized I needed to do something new for motivation and to keep me focused so that’s the way I’m doing it now. It’s a lot different compared to how I did things in the past. We’ll see how it turns out. When I made the move to Switzerland before Tokyo, people told me I was crazy and now people will think I’m crazy. I always want to learn. I see that as my main purpose.
How much is mental strength in BMX Racing you think?
Niek Kimmann: A lot! When I look at my UCI World Cup race in Argentina for instance, one day I did the LCQ, the next I was on the podium. In one day you can’t improve physically by 30%! That’s pure mental strength that changes your focus. The past 2 years I might have been racing too comfortably. I needed to step out of my comfort zone and now use that to give everything to get in shape. This year I’m turning 28 years old, I’ve been riding BMX since I was 7 years old, at 18 years old I won my first UCI World Cup race so in all honesty, I’m not going to get 10% better on the track. If I can get 0.5% left or right that’s a lot. It’s a matter of feeling right at the moments that it matters. How to ride with the experience of a veteran but with the passion of a youngster and that’s the balance I’m always after. That’s the puzzle.
Follow the first two round of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup from Rotorua, New Zealand here on FATBMX.com
Pics by Bart de Jong / @FATBMX