BMX World Championships in Rock Hill showcase a sport for all ag - | WBTV Charlotte

BMX World Championships in Rock Hill showcase a sport for all ages

(Kristi O'Connor | WBTV) (Kristi O'Connor | WBTV)
Harry Leary (Kristi O'Connor | WBTV) Harry Leary (Kristi O'Connor | WBTV)

The BMX World Championships are almost over in Rock Hill this week. According to the City of Rock Hill, there were competitors from 40 different countries across the world, but that is not the only sense of diversity BMX showcases.

Athletes as young as 5 years old up to athletes in their 70s are competing in BMX competitions like long-time rider Harry Leary.

“I started racing in 1973. I’ve raced every year since then, I haven’t missed a year,” Leary said.

Leary is one of the few drivers who have stuck with the sport for so long. Competing for nearly four decades, he’s made a name for himself. He graced the cover of dozens of magazines for his signature move the “Leary.”

"It's the most photographed, most recognized jump in the history of the sport," his wife, Patty Leary, said.

Even at age 58, he continues to ride and does not appear to be stopping anytime soon.

“It’s in my blood. It’s my life, it’s my passion,” Leary said.

Leary loves the sport, but so do a host of young riders like 10-year-old competitor from Ecuador Valtino Lalana, who has been racing for six years already.

The wide age range in BMX is one of the reasons the sport is so unique.

"The camaraderie that is shared between the 4-year-old and a 70-year-old, because everybody is trying to do the same thing,” Leary said.

The World Championships are a chance for the younger riders to meet and learn from the elite and experienced racers, but little do they know that even the pros are learning from the kids.

“Kids are evolving the sport on their own, and they don’t even know they’re doing it,” Leary said. “I’ll watch them and go, ‘Oh, I see that.’ So I’ll take their little skills and put it in my little bag of tricks.”

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