Simply unstoppable

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Photograph by Matthew Yaktine.

When many of us think of famous extreme sport athletes, our thoughts often turn to people like Tony Hawk or BMX dynamo Matt Hoffman. Both of these athletes have experienced great success at the Summer X Games, but this year’s tournament highlighted the fantastic career of another living legend: motocross and rally driver, Travis Pastrana.

For those of you who have never heard of the man, he is the most successful competitor in the history of X Games motocross and is also the host of his own MTV show Nitro Circus. The build up to Pastranas appearance at X Games was being dubbed ‘The Pastranathon’ by the US Media due to the fact that he was scheduled to compete in events for an amazing four days in a row, in different corners of the US.

The Games began on Thursday, July 28th with Pastrana scheduled to compete in moto X best trick; the next day he would remain In LA to compete in freestyle motocross before jetting off to Indianapolis to make his NASCAR debut on the Saturday. The next day would see him return to LA to compete in rally at X Games.

Sadly, not everything went to plan when Pastrana broke his right leg and foot on the first day whilst trying to pull off a 720 which would easily have won him gold. The gold was instead picked up by Jackson Strong who successfully executed a forward flip for the first time in X Games history.

Despite missing out on freestyle and his NASCAR debut, Pastrana made an amazing return to X Games on the last day of the tournament in the seat of a rally car after his team had spent the weekend fitting hand controls in the car to compensate for Pastranas’ inability to operate the pedals with his broken leg and foot.

After having only a couple  days to learn how to drive his car using the hand controls, he went on to finish first in his quarter final group, second in his semi final group and even came close to a medal, finishing just short in fourth place. A fantastic turnaround for an athlete who had broken his leg only three days before.

Although there were no medals for Pastrana this year, he proved what it really means to be a dedicated and passionate sportsman and is therefore a shining example to the sporting world.

Elsewhere at X Games, there was success for England’s Jamie Bestwick in BMX Vert. The biker from Nottingham picked up his fifth consecutive gold medal in what was a fairly successful run out for British athletes at the tournament.  Kent’s Liam Doran took gold in the rally car racing final whilst David Higgins from the Isle of Man took bronze in the same event.

Skateboard vert was won by another big name: Shaun White. The championship winning snowboarder has in recent years tuned his focus to skateboarding after admitting he has accomplished everything he wants to in snowboarding. With 15 Winter X medals under his belt ( 10 of those being gold), it is not hard to understand White’s decision.

X Games has gained much praise over the years for being a tournament that allows youngsters to shine and this year’s competition was no different. 16 year old Nyjah Houston took gold in skateboard street. Houston first competed in X Games at the age of 11 in 2006. His victory also made him the youngest person ever to win gold in skateboard street.

The youngest athlete at X Games 17 was 14 year old Mitchie Brusco. Brusco took part in skateboard big air, finishing just two places short of a bronze medal. Brusco’s still boasts however to be only the second person to have successfully landed a 900 on a big air quarter pipe. The first person was Brazilian Bob Burnquist, who won the big air competition at this year’s games.

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