The road to London is paved with potholes and tire punctures. But the medal at the end is exceedingly worth it.
Tory Nyhaug is anxious to plant his first jump and to shred that first turn as Canada's sole entry at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the BMX division.
The Coquitlam native has spent the better part of two years building for this - and the last two months waited on tenterhooks to see if it would come true.
Enjoying his most successful year yet on the international BMX circuit, Nyhaug had climbed to No. 5 in the world and earned Canada its BMX spot in London.
His only roadblock was the result of a brutal wipeout in the Netherlands in mid-May that put his Olympic dream on the sidelines and Nyhaug into a hospital bed.
That crash - an OTB in BMX terminology - sent him 'over the handle bars' and into the hospital with a ruptured spleen.
Laid up for three weeks, the 20 year-old knew his pass to London hinged on some factors out of his control: he had to demonstrate quick healing powers following the surgery, and acquire the doctors' seal of approval to make the trip.
It was the second time he ruptured his spleen, so he unexpectedly found himself among the ranks of ex-NHL star Peter Forsberg, NFL quarterback Chris Sims, and the late, great Evel Knievel as athletes/ daredevils who had their spleens removed and continued to perform.
"I've been through hell and worse the last while, but part of it is what we accept as possible when we race," said Nyhaug.
Obstacles have never deterred the fearless rider. In fact, he revels in them. When the Olympics are the carrot, it's not so hard to see why.
The two-time Canadian elite champion and one-time minor hockey star said riding at the Olympics has been a major motivation for a handful of years now.
"Pretty much since BMX was first announced for the Games," he said of the dream. "From that point on, it was what I was aiming for."
That aim proved true. It's been also made possible by the toil and support of physiotherapists, doctors, coaches and family and friends.
Now he's eager to lay it all out on the track and pick up where he left off.
"This was definitely my strongest year with three World Cups and making all three finals," he noted.
WHEN: Aug. 8-9, heats; Aug. 10, medals.
FOLLOW on Twitter: @tnyhaug49
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