Silver Lining for Day
“Mike Day is by far the best bike handler not only here in the States but in the whole world,” says Mike King, head coach of the U.S. Olympic BMX Team.
Oakley’s Mike Day would represent Team USA very well in the inaugural year of BMX at the Summer Games. Day would win his first two heats in the semifinals very handedly. The last race of the semifinals he would take second, but only because he cruised in first place the whole race to be passed at finish-line.
The finals were a hard fought battle with all the top guns in BMX pedaling for gold, including fellow Oakley athletes Rob van den Wildenberg (Netherlands), Jared Graves (Australia) and Sifiso Nhlapo (South Africa).
After the first bend and first jumps took an early toll on the field, Latvia’s Maris Strombergs pushed ahead of Day and Graves before the crucial big jump leading into the penultimate straight.
It was there that Graves saw his chances bite the dust when he was brought down by the flying bike of South African Sifiso Nhlapo.
Graves was angry at what he deemed was “stupid” riding on the part of some of his rivals.
“I was just trying to lean into the corner to hold on to third and guys are just riding stupid, trying moves that weren’t on,” he said.
Despite being beaten to gold, Day – one of the most impressive riders in the seedings, quarters and semis runs – was delighted to be on the first Olympic BMX podium.
“I’ve spent three and a half years just trying to get to the final, so to get the silver medal … it’s exciting,” he said.
Day is one of the world’s best bmx riders and has a very unique jersey number, but for good reason.
“When you turn pro, they always give you a number in the 300s,” Day stated, “and with my name on the back, it said: 365 Day.”
“Everyone talked about it, and I said, ’That’s it. That’s going to be my number.’ I’ll pretty much wear it till I’m done racing.”