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Lex Gillette’s “Blind Faith” in BMX Racing

May 4, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Lex Gillette rides the BMX Supercross Track at Chula Vista, CA
Story and Interview By Mike Carruth, Photos via YouTube

On BMX News, one of our primary goals is to bring you stories of extraordinary athletic accomplishment in the face of adversity. The rider who’s brain says “I can’t,” but who’s heart says “I must.” Our content is, by-and-large, all BMX, but the people who embody that credo are not always necessarily BMXers, by career.

Last October, we ran a story, written by Intense BMX Elite star Arielle Martin, talking about a day she spent on the Chula Vista Supercross track. It was not a story of the fastest lap time, or clearing this set or that. It was the story of a friend helping someone understand BMX racing in a way they otherwise could not, without her help.

That “someone” was two-time Paralympic Track & Field Silver Medalist, Elexis “Lex” Gillette. Lex is completely blind, but wanted to better understand the environment all his BMX friends at the OTC encounter on their day-to-day quest to make the 2012 US Olympic BMX Team.

Lex lives at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista full-time, just like other Olympic (and Paralympic) hopefuls who are training full-time to represent our country in London next year. Lex’s training is substantially the same as any other athlete on the property, with special consideration given to their specific sport and unique training needs.

The day Arielle and Lex spent walking the track is wonderfully-accounted in the link below, so if you have not previously read it, we encourage you to do so.

But first, fast-forward to last week, when Arielle, and a few other OTC friends helped Lex take his curiosity for BMX racing a step further. They pulled an official “USA” jersey over his shoulders, strapped a helmet on his head and took him, aboard a “Team USA” Intense Podium, out to the last straight of the Beijing-replica track, for him to RIDE a BMX Supercross track, firsthand.

Video Of Arielle helping Lex ride the Chula Vista SX Track (will open in new window)

Now, to you and me, that might be challenge enough. But, think about doing it with a blindfold on, which is basically how Lex experienced it, and it elevates things to a whole new level of challenge.

The link to the video is also below, but we just had to get the full story from Lex’s own lips on his journey from being told, at eight years old, that he would never see again…to the Athens, then Beijing, Paralympic Games…and then to riding a BMX track that only our sport’s most celebrated and talented riders ever get the chance to ride.

It’s an interview that the entire family, regardless of age, should listen to, and underscores, in the most profound way, how you CAN do anything you set your mind to doing, regardless of the obstacles you may initially perceive are in your way.

Click Below to Listen To The Podcast

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Arielle’s BMX News article on Lex’s first walk on the track

Audio: The Song “Crazy,” By Lex Gillette, on his first BMX experience

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YouTube Video of Lex In Action in the Longjump

Lex Gillette on Twitter

Editor’s note: at :24 in the Podcast, we say Lex competed in two “Olympic” games. That should have been “Paralympic” Games. We apologize for the error.

Arielle Martin On “Inspiration”

October 21, 2010 by · Comments Off 

lex gillette, beijing 2008

Arielle sent around an email today with a wonderful story about a friend of hers, a Paralympian, who also trains at OTC/Chula Vista. The story was so moving, that News asked her if we could reprint it for our readers to enjoy.

For all the complaining and self-limitation we sometimes let filter into our everyday lives, Elexis “Lex” Gillette reminds us that our world is literally brighter than we could ever imagine (and so is his, by the way).

A big thanks to Arielle for sharing this story of inspiration.

INSPIRATION

When I think about the opportunity I have had to live and train at the Olympic Training Center, what comes to mind is not the world class equipment, the physio, the state of the art technology, or the best SX course in the world. Its the other athletes. The ones I eat lunch with, live with, and pass on the campus en route to training. Athletes that inspire me to be a better athlete, to work harder as I see them work harder. Diversified in many different sports we are all united in one common goal: The Olympics.

None have impacted me more than Elexis Gillette. At first glance Lex appears to be a typical Long jumper. A long, dark muscular body with an obvious athletic astuteness and awareness of a high-caliber athlete. Always surrounded by people, Lex has an energy that is contagious, a smile always on his face, and it usually takes two or three glances before the average person finally realizes that he is completely blind.

It never ceases to amaze me how he gets around campus on his own, often without his walking stick. Or how he always knows its me when I walk in the cafeteria and shouts my name before I have spoken his. If that’s not inspiring enough his athletic ability is phenomenal. Watching him charge a runway to the sound of his guide runners claps before launching himself blind into a pit of sand seems impossible. A silver medalist in Bejing, Lex has proved the impossible wrong. His blindness has only made him more aware, and his attitude being so positive all the time makes me wonder why I complain about the small things.

Lex has an insatiable curiosity, and after attending our World Cup a few weeks ago he asked me if I would take him out to walk our course so he could “feel” it. Understand it. I was hesitant at first to take him to the top of the 3 1/2 story start ramp, but he insisted we walk it from start to end. Over the next 45 minutes he touched and felt every lip, landing, berm and surface while I explained it to him. It was an incredible experience for me, I had never seen the course like this before. As I was describing it to him while his fingertips were touching the gate, the ramp, the soil-tac on the dirt, it was opening my own eyes. Like I was seeing it for the first time.

Lex also happens to be an incredible musician. He writes, he sings, he plays. Its evident after spending just a little time with him that his real passion is music, none of us that know him doubt that he is going somewhere with it. He has real talent.

After we went out to the BMX track, Lex wrote a song about it. Below, you will find an MP3, accompanied by the lyrics. Its raw and funny. I thought it was pretty cool, and I felt like sharing, hence this email. The experience has inspired me.

Arielle

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“CRAZY”
By Elexis Gillette
—————–

45 degrees, go
and let the Red Bull take control
lights, camera, action
all in your peripheral
now you see me, now you don’t
take a risk, take a chance
don’t worry lil mama I might crash
it’s my sport, it’s what I choose
broken bones is just a bruise
you think that my screw’s loose?

little bit crazy
what you think about that?
little bit crazy
a little bit crazy
everybody think it’s a little bit crazy

I go hard or go home
and break competitors off like they Styrofoam
burning rubber bringing steam
you just wanna make a team
but I live American dreams
so go ahead and let the titans clash
we might need a … ambulance
I can make ya swerve in my velodrome
only one can take the throne

keep the rhythm bring it home

little bit crazy
what you think about that yo?
little bit crazy
a little bit crazy
everybody think it’s a little bit crazy

clip ‘em in, take a ride
pick a lane, you decide
hit the ramp, ride the sky
make the crowd lose their mind
clip ‘em in, take a ride
pick a lane, you decide
hit the ramp, ride the sky
While L.E.X. expand your mind

when I’m up in the race I’m all up in your face
and I got speed no one can replace
just kill the chase, can’t keep with the pace
don’t you know I be pushing the sounds, what
324 is where I make hits
ladies just go write your numb down
and fellas be looking like “who this?” like “who this?”
I’m that one that’s rolling and flowing and holding it scrolling it
I be controlling it through the crowd and then I’m just like “cool it now”
need to slow it down
everybody just jump jump and break it down
I got BMX on my hip, hula!
running the table, Don Shula
if you think that you a ruler wake up and smell them tulips, yeah
better get out the way when I get out my cage
red white and blue when I get on the stage
30MPH and I’m up in a rage

cause it’s a little bit crazy
a little bit crazy
BMX is so crazy
everybody say it’s a little bit crazy
it’s a little bit crazy
everybody say it’s a little bit crazy

Photo via Lex Gillette’s Facebook Page

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