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Glenn Pursley, Published June 21 2012

National champion BMX racer holds clinic to help area kids become better riders

Dilworth

Balance and coordination are building blocks for learning how to ride a bike. In Dominique Daniels’ case, she used those blocks to build a life.

Daniels attended the Olympic BMX trials in Birmingham, Ala., this year. It was her first chance at making the Olympic team.

“I finally opened up in Birmingham,” Daniels said. “But unfortunately I came unclipped during my time trial, so I wasn’t able to make it to the Olympics.”

Daniels was denied the chance back in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics. That year marked the first year BMX was an official Olympic sport, and Daniels, age 15 at the time, was too young to compete.

Daniels was in town Thursday to put on a BMX clinic at Constitution Park in Dilworth. Daniels said she enjoys spending her free time with the kids and helping them become better riders.

“I started putting on clinics back in 2009. This is my third year,” Daniels said. “It’s my way of helping kids who don’t have pros at their home tracks to look up to, to advise them like I did. It wasn’t easy.”

Daniels started riding BMX bikes after receiving a motorcycle for Christmas at the age of 12. Having a track very close to her home in Gilbert, Ariz., she thought it would be the perfect place to try out her new wheels.

When she got to the track, she was in for a surprise.

“There was a track near our house,” said Daniels. “We thought it was motocross track, but it turned out to be a BMX track, so that’s how’s I started to ride.”

Daniels traded in her motorcycle for a BMX bike. Shortly thereafter, she was back at the track in no time.

With a majority of time and effort spent riding, Daniels still managed to play basketball, wrestle and run track for Mesquite High School in Arizona.

“My primary, secondary sport was track and field,” Daniels sad. “I’ve always been a hyperactive kid, so a lot of my outputs were athletics. But my passion has always been speed.”

Running may have been her favorite sport on the side, but it wasn’t enough to keep her from riding. Daniels turned down a track scholarship from Arizona State University to pursue her BMX career at nearby Grand Canyon State.

“It was great cross-training (between track and BMX),” Daniels said, “but BMX just became a good combination of speed and athleticism for me.”

That decision paid off as Daniels won the 2007 BMX national championship in Waterford, Mich., one year before she turned pro in 2008. She has also appeared on the cover of “ESPN Rise”, which is a magazine geared toward high school and college students.

Daniels expects to try out for the next Summer Olympics in 2016, but Fargo Davies freshman Shawna Pantzke hopes to give her a run for her money.

“She’s my protégé. Me and Shawna go way back,” Daniels said. “We’ve been training together for three years now.”

Pantzke’s mother had worked with Daniels’ uncle before either of the girls had started racing. It wasn’t until the 2008 Disney Championship that the two officially met.

“I like the traveling and the people I meet,” Pantzke said. “I met (Daniels) at one of the nationals and she became my hero. She was my favorite pro.”

Pantzke started riding at the age of 10 and is currently ranked fifth in the USA BMX association National Age Group standings with 1,254 points and ranked No. 53 in the national overall.


Forum reporter Glenn Pursley can be reached at (701) 241-5558.