Wednesday, July 23, 2014
SOUTHAMPTON — Anthony Lucchesi, 15, has been winning state and regional BMX racing titles since he started speeding around dirt tracks on his BMX bicycle at age 12. But on Friday, Lucchesi learned that he won the thing that had been eluding him — a chance to train with other elite racers at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California.
By doing well at certain national races this spring, Lucchesi earned enough points be among the eight teenage riders invited to the USA Cycling BMX Development Program at the training center Aug. 17 to 24. Racers only have a two-year period in their mid-teens when they can qualify.
“When I first heard about it, it was an amazing feeling,” Lucchesi said of receiving his formal invitation to the camp. He did a phone interview Monday while he was at a BMX training center in Connecticut.
“I was definitely relieved,” he said, because he and his family have been working hard for months to make the dream happen. Lucchesi redoubled his training efforts and his parents, Andrea and Thomas Lucchesi, took turns taking him to qualifying races all over the country. He had to miss a lot of school at Hampshire Regional High School, so he enrolled instead in Greenfield Virtual Academy, which offers online classes.
The USA Cycling BMX Development camp, called Devo Camp for short, aims to train young elite riders to be the next generation of Olympians. The participants will work with coaches, nutritionists and other experts and have access to the best BMX tracks and training facilities, according to the website of USA BMX, the governing organization for BMX, short for bicycle motorcross.
“It’s going to be nonstop riding and training,” Lucchesi said.
BMX races are run on twisting dirt tracks with big and small jumps, and the first biker across the finish line wins. The Olympic Training Center has multiple tracks, including replicas of the BMX cycling tracks from the 2008 and 2012 summer Olympics.
“They’re definitely going to be more difficult tracks than I’m used to,” he said. “It’s going to be an amazing experience, but it will hard to hit a track going 35 to 40 mph and then hit jumps that are 30 feet long.”
While Lucchesi said that he would love to be an Olympian someday, he is setting more short-term goals for himself now that he has succeeded in getting invited to the training camp. If he continues to win at Devo qualifying races in the next few months, he can once again make the top eight riders and get an invite to another training session at the Olympic Training Center — the last camp he will be eligible for due to his age.
To qualify for the camp in August — which costs $700 — Lucchesi got second place in one national Devo race and third place finishes at two other Devo races. He ranked sixth in the country.
Andrea Lucchesi said her husband will go with Anthony Lucchesi to California, while she and his brother, Thomas, will stay at their College Highway home.
“We’re so proud of him,” Andrea Lucchesi said. “He’s been training so hard.”
Rebecca Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.