This past weekend, at the UCI BMX World Championships in Birmingham, U.K., Free Agent/Rockstar BMX pro David Herman secured the first spot on Team USA's 2012 Olympic BMX race team, leading into the 2012 London Olympics this summer.
After Sunday's Championship main event, one man and one woman from Team USA would earn the "Automatic Nomination" slot to London 2012. (Arielle Martin secured the spot for women.) Herman, in an unusual turn of events, was behind Olympic hopeful Connor Fields by 137 in USA Cycling BMX power ranking points leading into the weekend. Fields crashed in the Quarterfinals and did not make the main event. Pressure mounted on Herman -- he would need to finish in sixth place or better in the finals to earn the necessary 138 points to grab the Automatic Nomination slot.
In the last turn of the main race, New Zealand's Marc Willers went down, taking both Maris Strombergs and David Herman with him. Herman got back up and crossed the finish line in fifth place. He had won the first spot on the Team USA 2012 Olympic BMX race team.
"Crossing the finish line in the finals, I looked up and I got fifth, and I knew that I had won the points. It wasn't that I didn't believe it -- it was a weird feeling that I couldn't explain," said Herman in an interview with BMXNews.com on Wednesday. "A lot of stuff had to happen for me to win the points, and it worked out like it did," he continued.
Via Twitter, Herman, 24, a resident of Denver, Colo., said he wrote "Dig deeper" on his wrist, and thanked X Games gold medalist and BMX dirt icon Stephen Murray for inspiration during the race.
Herman has not yet decided on additional ABA race plans leading up to London, but will spend the entire month of July at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Chula Vista, Calif. in training. Recently, we caught up with Herman to discuss his new status as an Olympic BMX racer.
ESPN.com: How much of a relief is it being the first person to be on the Olympic BMX team for the U.S.?
Herman: It's huge. Being the first selected is a trip straight to London without having to stress about trials or coach's picks. In my mind, I had to win the points. Also, knowing I was the most consistent American rider during the last year is a big confidence boost heading into the London Games.
When you got balled up in the last turn at the Worlds, what was going through your mind?
When the crash happened, I didn't really hit the ground. I scrambled as fast as I could knowing what was on the line. I remember looking back at least three times counting the riders behind me. At the finish line, I sat in silence trying to process what had just happened.
Was it the happiest you've ever been to get a fifth?
I went to the Worlds to get on the podium so fifth was a little disappointing from a racing standpoint. I would have never thought I could sit in complete silence just moments after making the Olympic team. I was shocked, and for some reason I held it all in.
I told myself I would quit racing if I didn't make it [to the Olympic team] this time around.
What's in store for the next few months leading up to the Games?
I don't know what's in store for me. I'm beginning the search for an agent. A lot of media buzz is starting to circulate here in Denver so that will be exciting. Come the start of July, I will be at the OTC in Chula Vista training with the team. I'm really looking forward to the next few months.
Are you feeling redeemed after missing out on the 2008 team?
I look up to both Mike [Day] and Donny [Robinson] for what they accomplished in '08. It's great to be in the same company as them, as well as Kyle Bennett -- American BMX Olympians. For me, I knew this would be my last run at making the Olympic team. I told myself I would quit racing if I didn't make it this time around.
Fortunately that isn't the case, but if it were, what would you be moving onto next?
My plan regardless is to go back to school after the Olympics. It's never been a back up plan -- it's just the next goal I want to accomplish. I plan to balance racing and school for the next few years.
Any idea what you're going to study?
I want to be a physical therapist and work with athletes. I would love to work at the Olympic Training Center one day.