From Robbie Maddison and Cameron Sinclair to the new generation of Jackson Strong and Josh Sheehan, FMX is a second home to Australians.
As the Red Bull X-Fighters head to Rome, Blake ‘Bilko’ Williams explains what it is about Aussies that gives them the 'X' factor.
“This is a really important part of what Australians are about. We live our lives in the great outdoors most of the time and there’s not too many built up areas, so as a kid you’re always going out in the paddock. You never sit round watching TV; you’re always looking for stuff to do, just getting your hands dirty. And your parents always encourage you to get into sport. And this is where that’s led me and Maddo.”
Down to Earth Attitude
“Aussies are pretty good at this. You can’t just turn up somewhere and think you’re the man. You can go to Southern California maybe and be Australian and be cocky with the chicks and stuff – and that works pretty well – but you can’t do that at home. You get hauled back pretty quick. We tend to treat people with the respect we expect to get back. It helps in an environment like this (Red Bull X-Fighters). I think a lot people in the sport have respect for the Australians, not just in the way we ride but also in the way we conduct ourselves. We’re pretty grounded I think.”
Sense of Humour
“This is massively important. Aussies have got great humour, a really wide variety of humour. A lot of times there’ll be a lot of jokes being thrown around between me, Cam (Sinclair) and Maddo and our mechanics and no-one will laugh except us, but we’ll laugh like crazy. Sometimes we do swear a little bit too much though… but never in front of the women and children!”
'I think Aussies go into all sport with the attitude that failure is not an option'
Having a Go
“You’ll never get anywhere without a bit of this attitude. I never knew I was going to be successful in America. I spent a lot of my own money getting to X-Games the first year I went. I was invited and scraped together the money to go and even after prize money and everything I still went home having made a loss. But I got a lot of sponsorship out of it and I knew I had a shot. I went back the next year, started breaking even, started making a little money and now I’m at the top of the sport in the US, despite coming from another country. I had a go at it and I was successful. Sometimes it doesn’t work out but you have to try. Otherwise you’d be sitting on a couch in 10 years' time thinking ‘what if…’ That’s way too late. I want to be sitting back when I’m 40 thinking that I tried everything I could. It does extend to tricks as well, but only on the days when you’re feeling comfortable on the bike, feeling 100 per cent confident. If you’re a little bit sceptical, carrying an injury or have bike issues or you’re just not comfortable on the course, then you have to say ‘today’s not the day to have a go’. That’s just down to common sense, which is probably another good Aussie trait.”
“I think Aussies go into all sport with the attitude that ‘failure is not an option’. And if you do get knocked back then you get right back up and try again until you either win or you can’t do it any more. I’m at the stage now where my knees are a bit shot, but I’m not giving up just because of that.”
“Aussie’s are pretty good on the road. We can pretty much work our way out of any situation. When we come to Red Bull X-Fighters you’re pretty well looked after with everything but if all of us had to go on a road trip by ourselves I reckon the Aussies would be like ‘throw in some camping gear and we’ll figure it out as we go. We’re pretty good at winging it’. I’m used to it now, though it’s pretty hard for us Australians, especially the ones that live in America. Doing that 14-hour flight six or eight times a year sucks.”