Just twelve months after the spectacular crash in Madrid which almost cost him his life, Cameron Sinclair is back in the Spanish capital to confront his past and look to the future. In an interview, the Australian rider talks about that fateful evening in the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, his long road to recovery and why it is only a matter of time before he takes on the Double Backflip again.
This is your first time back in Madrid since your crash during the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour event in 2009. How does it feel returning to the city one year on?
As far as the Red Bull X-Fighters go, Madrid is always something special, but coming back here for me is special in a different way. It is twelve months since the crash. To be honest, I don’t really remember much about it. I asked my fiancée Brooke about it, because I can’t recall what happened. When she told me it was pretty hard to take. In a certain way it is nice to be back in Madrid, but it is a shame I can’t ride here. At the moment there are loads of tricks I would love to do, but I am not yet physically where I would like to be, so I don’t want to risk getting hurt again.
The days and weeks after your crash must have been very hard for your family and especially for your fiancée Brooke, who was with you in Madrid for the event. How is it for her coming back?
Of course it is tough for her. To be honest, she didn’t really want to come back here, because she still has pretty bad memories of the place. That is why I asked her a few weeks ago what happened. It was really hard for her being here and not understanding the language, but Red Bull were really good and supported her really well. I guess it’s just something that she is going to have to get over, just like me. I have already told her that when I do the Double Backflip again it will be much safer, but I can understand that it still must be very hard for her here.
You competed in the opening event of the season in Mexico City (MEX), but you admitted before the competition that you didn’t have a realistic chance of winning. A few months on, how are you feeling?
It’s getting a lot better. In Mexico I was just coming back, then in Moscow I felt stronger, and now I am a lot better than a few months ago. Every week I can feel myself improving. Of course there are times when I don’t feel like anything is happening and I even want to quit, but I just have to follow the advice of the doctors and stay patient. They have told me that I could need anywhere between 12 and 24 months to get back to full fitness, so this time next year I hope to be back to where I want to be.
Having been riding at the very highest level just one year ago, it must be frustrating going into events knowing that you can’t keep up with the top guys because your body simply isn’t ready. What are your goals for the rest of this season?
My goal is just to do the best I can and make no mistakes. With the tricks I have at the moment I genuinely think I could finish in the top five, and if I threw the Double Backflip I could even win again, but I am going to leave that alone for the moment. I would like to do it again in London, if not there than definitely in Rome. I have spoken to Brooke about it, and I’m not really allowed, but after my accident my goal was to come back and win an event. At the moment my focus is on the X-Games next week, then I will look to see what I can do in London.
After such a scary experience, do you have any superstitions?
No, not really. I try and steer clear of that stuff. There are riders out there who always put one glove on first or something like that, but I’m not into it myself.
One of your most striking features is your collection of tattoos. Can you tell us about how you got into tattooing and what some of them mean?
Doing our sport means taking a lot of risks, so most of the first ones I had done were to remember friends of mine who have lost their lives through FMX. My roommate broke his neck last year and eventually passed away, so I’ve got one of him. There are also a few others which have special meanings – I have one of my family crest, and another one with two spaces for when I have children. From then on I kind of got addicted to the whole tattoo thing and ended up getting pretty much my whole arm done, but initially the idea was to remember friends I have lost. On one of my wrists I also have the names of my mum and dad, Ken and Julie.
Are there any more you would like to get done soon?
I would kind of like to get my whole back done! That would be cool, and I could hide it away if I needed to. If I can get a medal at the X-Games next week then I am sure I will get something done. It is good to remember achievements, but I have nothing from Madrid last year. I don’t want to remember what happened last year.
Last time around it was Dany Torres who took the win here in Madrid in front of his home crowd. Who do you think is the favourite going into this year’s event?
You know, Dany Torres is such a great rider that he is hard to beat everywhere. When it comes to courses with lots of jumps or technical bits like Moscow then he comes a little unstuck, but in the bullfighting rings it is so hard to beat him – especially here in home town! Apart from him I suppose Levi has got to be one of the favourites – he’s an amazing rider and in great form at the moment.
Red Bull X-Fighters returns to Madrid, to the most revered arena on Earth. Las Ventas will go insane for two days again, with the biggest FMX competition on the planet and the most enthusiastic crowd in the sport cheering on each and every rider’s performance.
As in two previous years, the Qualification Rounds and Wild Card Competition will take place on Thursday, while Friday will be the day of the Grand Finale. After Dany Torres’ victory in 2009 – the first ever win for the local hero on home turf – the question for 2010 is whether the Spaniard will be able to step it up a notch and fight for the overall Championship title.
Riders List Red Bull X-Fighters Madrid 2010
Andre Villa – NOR
Jeremy Stenberg – USA
Cameron Sinclair – AUS
Eigo Sato – JAP
Levi Sherwood – NZL
Mat Rebeaud – CH
Nate Adams – USA
Robbie Maddison – AUS
Dany Torres – ESP
Adam Jones – USA
Remi Bizouard – FRA
Maikel Melero – ESP
Lance Coury – USA
Jackson Strong – AUS
Clinton Moore – AUS
Brody Wilson – USA
David Rinaldo – FRA
Thursday 22nd of July 2010: Qualification & Wild Card Competition
Friday 23rd of July 2010: Red Bull X-Fighters Spain