Pottstown’s Justin Knapper sprints to national BMX title
Did you know that Pottstown is the home of a current national BMX champion?
Meet Justin Knapper, #1 in the nation in the Boys’ 14-year-old Expert class of the National Bicycle League (NBL). Oddly enough, because there are not very many BMX facilities in southeastern PA, Justin is also the 2010 New Jersey State Champion.In order to compete in the 2010 Grand Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky last September, Justin had to compete in a minimum of six national races and place high enough to earn enough points to even qualify for the title of national champion. That was no problem because over the past two years, he’s gotten to the finals of every event he’s entered. Last year, that amounted to about 15 national events. So, how does he do it?
“I’ve been racing since I was three years old,” he said, rocking back and forth on his bike at Pottstown’s Trilogy Park. “I bike every day, mainly doing sprints in a parking lot, or going to the gym and lifting weights.”
Justin, who is sponsored by Rennen/Intense, can often be seen working out with his older brother Jeremy, who placed 12th in the nation in the 19-25 Expert class and is also the reigning 2010 New Jersey State Champion in his age bracket.
For those who have never seen a BMX race, eight riders line up in a standing position at the top of a hill. When a green light goes on, a gate drops and the riders take off, sprinting over small hills and around a few curves before crossing the finish line. The whole race is over in about 30 seconds. The qualifying heats in an event are called “motos,” and the top 8 finishers from the motos end up in the main event or final. There are three levels – Rookie, Challenger and Expert. A rider can’t move up to the next level until they have a minimum of 15 first-place finishes in a main event.
Unfortunately, area residents attending this weekend’s Memorial Classic at Memorial Park will not get to see their hometown champion in action. This past March Justin took a spill and broke one of his legs in 5 places. But he’s still in the hunt to defend his title inLouisville on Labor Day weekend. He’s been doing physical therapy three times a week, and hopes to compete again in New Paltz, New York in mid-June. We’ll be rooting for you, Justin!
For this weekend’s schedule, see here.
Check out our other stories about this weekend’s BMX fun and places for visitors to get a bite to eat around town!