What an experience it was, watching freestyle BMX champion Yohei Uchino perform thrilling freestyle BMX stunts in front of a charged crowd of young people. The Japanese rider was in the country for the first time to conduct a three-day flatland BMX workshop in India, as part of Red Bull’s Under My Wing initiative.
When we caught up with him after his performance, he greeted us with a namaste and then sat on a stool, proclaiming, “I am the BMX Ganesha,” with a big smile. Yohei is quite the star on the flatland BMX circuit, having developed a trick called the Utchie spin, which takes its name from Yohei’s nickname (Utchie). He also won the sport’s world championship VooDoo Jam in 2008. And, like most good things, the trick came about by accident. “I was trying to do the time machine spin, which is a forward spin, but instead ended up doing it backwards. That is how the Utchie spin came about,” Yohei explained.
Speaking of his India experience, Yohei said that while the sport doesn’t enjoy a lot of popularity here, he has seen much enthusiasm and motivation to excel among its practitioners in the country. He practices five times a week, doing contest-related tricks when there is a contest coming up, and otherwise, looks to develop new tricks. “My dream is to see flatland BMX as an Olympic sport,” Yohei said, adding that the sport enjoys much popularity in USA, France, Spain and Germany, along with Japan.
However, his favourite country to perform in has been India, as the experience was ‘most fun’ here. “In Japan, people take flatland BMX too seriously. It isn’t so in India,” Yohei told us, referring to the loud cheers and hoots his performance garnered. Lastly, we must mention, that we were pretty stunned when we got to know how old Yohei was. He looks 19. He is 30. If only we had such genes. Sigh.