At age 16, BMX bike racer Cole Tesar of Huntersville already has reached the top of his sport several times – and he’s aiming to go further.
Cole, a junior at Hopewell High School, has won world championships in his age category in BMX racing from South America to Down Under to Europe. As an elementary schooler, he went to Brazil and captured the age 10 championship. He traveled to Australia in 2009 and won his age group as a 13-year-old. Last year, in England, he won a 16-year-old category.
Not only that, he’s racked up 12 national championships as well, putting him on a fast track to become of the country’s top adult BMX (bicycle motocross) racers. Right now he’s ranked seventh in the country in the Union Cycliste Internationale ratings for his age group.
This weekend Cole’s competing in the USA BMX National Series in the 16 Expert category, cranking at full speed around a 1,150-foot-long dirt track at Hornets Nest Park north of Charlotte, leaping over berms and banking around corners. The event has drawn more than 1,000 cyclists, ranging from 3 and 4 year olds to two-time Olympic gold medal winner Maris Strombergs of Latvia.
On Saturday, Cole finished second of 24 riders, behind Justin Knapper of Pottstown, Pa. A second series of races continue Sunday. (In the two top pro categories Saturday, Alise Post of St. Cloud, Minn., won women’s while Australian silver medalist Sam Willoughby, who now lives in Chula Vista, Calif., won men’s, according to results posted on the USA BMX web site.)
Next weekend, Cole will be in Chula Vista, Calif., for the USA Cycling BMX Elite National Championship. Then he hopes to qualify for the UCI BMX world championships for junior men in New Zealand in July.
Cole’s ultimate goal is to make the U.S. Olympic Team in BMX racing (it’s been an Olympic sport since 2008) and win a gold medal. He thinks he’ll have his best shot in 2020. “I’ll put in the time and effort that it takes,” he said. “You just have to train a lot and ride your bike a lot.”
An early bloomer, Cole has been on a BMX bike since he was 4. His mom, Josette, volunteered at the Barium Springs Children’s Home in Troutman and took young Cole along to see the kids ride their BMX bikes. “I loved it,” he said Saturday afternoon between races. “I took my training wheels off (my bike) that day. I got a BMX bike.”
Josette and Todd Tesar began taking Cole to the Hornets Nest Park track, and after getting the feel of the track, won his first race at age 5. The Tesars, who have a daughter, Madison, 14, have been regulars at the park ever since. “We brought him out here and he rode and rode and rode,” his father said.
In addition to taking engineering classes at Hopewell, Cole, 5-foot-10-inches and 185 pounds, trains seven hours a week, riding his bike and working out in a gym in the family garage. He also plays soccer and was named all-conference and all-state this season. This year he received a AAA Scholar-Athlete Award.
“He works extremely hard,” Todd Tesar said. “He’s kind of made the decision this is the way he wants to go. If you want to win, you have to train.”
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