Daredevil and spectacular: The men's BMX freestyle final attracted an overwhelming number of spectators on Saturday, August 13. Thunderous applause and cheers accompanied the athletes' runs. An atmosphere above the rooftops of the city of Munich that is unlikely to be forgotten so quickly.
"The atmosphere and the audience were incredible," said Timo Schulze, who was one of two Germans competing for medals in the finals of the European Championships. "I even think that until now it was the biggest audience I've ever ridden in front of," he added in an interview a few days after the final. The 24-year-old performed his stunts on the BMX Park, which was built on the Olympic Hill as part of the multisport event.
"Motivated and pushed" he said he went into the competition due to the charged atmosphere. "At the beginning of my run, however, everything then faded out. There I get nothing more - except my thoughts and my feeling for the bike. I completely block out the audience and the music from that point on."
Concentrated and focused, the 24-year-old landed a 360 downside tailwhip, a backflip barspin, a no hander backflip and a frontflip, among others. With 78.60 points, he even moved into second place in the meantime - and improved by 7.40 points compared to the qualification.
"There's nothing I can complain about," Schulze said, looking at his performance in the final. "Sure, there are one or two little things I could have done better. But that doesn't stay out of the question in a situation like this, that not everything immediately works as planned. Nevertheless, I am more than satisfied."
In the course of the competition, Latvian Ernests Zebolds (82.10), Czech Tomáš Beran (84.80), Croatian Marin Ranteš (88.80), Briton Kieran Reilly (92.10) and Frenchman Anthony Jeanjean (93.60) still passed Schulze. The German thus finished sixth at the European Championships. Schulze said he looked back on the European Championships knowing that he could do well against the competition, "but still had to step it up a notch."
He will continue to train "hard and intensively. His sights are set on 2024. "My current main goal is to get better and qualify for the Olympics in Paris," he said. BMX freestyle has been Olympic since 2021. So it's no wonder that after this performance at the European Championships, the dream of "representing Germany at the Olympics" is alive.
Text & Photos: Michelle Brey