21 year old Amanda Carr is without a doubt a gifted athlete. During high school she earned an incredible 17 varsity letters in sports such as golf, track and field, weight lifting and soccer, all while maintaining a 3.84 GPA. But at this point in her life Amanda has narrowed her focus and is dedicated to a singular purpose, becoming an Olympic BMX Rider for Team USA and taking a medal in London.
I caught up with Amanda last week just before the opening race in the 2012 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup series in Chula Vista, California, an event drawing approximately 200 of the best BMX riders in the world.
Amanda’s introduction to the sport of BMX came at a young age in Punta Gorda, Florida. “I started racing at 5 after watching my cousins compete at a local track.” And she was a natural. She won the UCI BMX World Champion for 15-year-old girls and repeated the following year (2006) in the 16-year-old division.
In addition to her success in BMX, Amanda “participated” in a few other sports. “I came in 4th place in the 139lb weight class at the Florida HS AA State Championships in weightlifting with a 150 lb. Bench Press and a 155 lb. Clean & Jerk.” And her track and field and soccer skills led to additional opportunities after high school. “In 2008, I was a member of the NCSU Women’s Soccer team; however I decided to transfer to Florida State University in the spring of 2009.” At FSU, taking advantage of her diverse athletic background, Amanda began preparing to compete with the track and field team in the Heptathlon.
However, Amanda new that BMX was still in her blood. And later that spring, the telephone rang with an opportunity she couldn’t pass up – She was contacted about joining the women’s BMX Olympic Development Squad at Chula Vista, California.
“I thought, I can do this, I can be a full-time student, I can be a student athlete, and I can train for the Olympics. But my Dad said Are you crazy? Do you want to be mediocre at all three?”
With the blessing of her parents, Amanda put her academic and collegiate sports ambitions on hold to purse an Olympic dream. Amanda said, “My parents are very supportive. They told me they are here to help me chase and achieve my dreams, whatever they are.”
Amanda’s Chula Vista training environment includes the opportunity to be coached by BMX legend Greg Romero and train on a world class track alongside other elite BMX riders.
According to Amanda,
“A lot of people don’t understand. BMX racing is an all-out sprint, a one lap dash around a track. We start with 8 women all on the starting ramp, all trying to funnel down to a single lane. It can be absolute carnage. We may hit speeds of 35 MPH as we go down the ramp, and hit a jump covering 40 feet from takeoff to landing followed immediately by a 30 foot jump.”
And in spite of the jumps, BMX racing isn’t about doing tricks. “I never do tricks or stunts, but there are a number of jumps in a single lap of a race. It isn’t a multi-lap race, but we may participate in multiple heats that are 15 minutes apart.”
And how about her race this past weekend? Amanda took 2nd place in Sunday’s USAC National Championship, making a favorable impression on a number of onlookers.
According to Stephen Gerardi of Corsa Racewear:
“I’ve been following Amanda’s BMX racing career for 9 years, watching her progress since she was a kid. Corsa Racewear is proud to sponsor her. You can see the determination in her eyes when she is on the track, and her results from this past weekend at the Chula Vista event really showed that her training is paying off.”
And from Jerry Landrum at BMX Mania:
“I know that Amanda is one of the hardest working Elite Women’s racers, but she’s definitely taking it to another level. Her riding at the Chula Vista Supercross race was absolutely hard core.”
After the Olympic Games this summer Amanda will have some decisions to make. “Eventually, after I finish competing in BMX, I plan to go back to school in Florida. I hope to compete in track and field and soccer, and once I get my degree, I plan to go to law school.”
In our brief conversation it was apparent that Amanda has the drive and ambition necessary to succeed in area of life she chooses to focus on. Let’s all be thankful that Amanda has made the 2012 Olympics her top priority.