SPORT - INTERVIEW
Friday, October 26, 2018
SPORT - INTERVIEW
by Meryem Aksoy
Considering the natural development of the process, first, we learn to ride the bike and then we start riding the motorcycle. But Gaby Malenfant started with 65 cc motocross and then he joined BMX races. After he discovered his passion for BMX, he decided to pursue a pro career in BXM racing. It is necessary to take risks in order to achieve success on this wild track. The riders compete with each other to reach to the finish line at the first position. And Gaby Malenfant did it, he won the Gold Medal at the 2018 Canadian BMX Championships on his 3rd professional season. I talked with Gaby Malenfant to learn about his career, and I asked him about his opinions and experiences about the importance of individual sponsorship in BMX racing.
Gaby, how did your cycling career begin? When did you decide to be a professional BMX cyclist?
My cycling career begin when I was 8 years old. By that time I was doing motocross racing with a little 65 cc motocross when I realise it was kind of too much for me. I was scared of it so I decided to stop and I found a few weeks later BMX racing in my area so I decided to give it a try and fell in love instantly with it. I never really decided to become a professional in my sport, it just came with years. I was dreaming at first that one day I would be a pro and I just did what it takes to reach it.
Could you tell us about your BMX cycling career and your achievements?
I’ve been racing pro for 3 years now. I’ve done some world cups, world championships, and some other international races. If I had to put a podium of the achievement I’m the most proud I would say. 3- 2016 when I reach the top 48 in a World cup in Rock Hill Sc USA. 2- When I did 64th in the world championship this year in Baku Azerbaijan 1- When I won the national title this year at my home track in Drummondville. That was my far the achievement I’m the most proud of because I’m the first of my province to win a national title in the history of BMX racing in Canada
Could you tell us about yourself and your life? What are you doing except for the time you spend on the tracks?
I have always been a person who loves sport. Especially cycling sport. So I’m spending most of my time in the cycling community even if we exclude BMX. I love to do road bike, mountain bike by example. To be honest, I’m practicing almost all kind of cycling discipline when I’m not training for BMX. I also have a passion for reading. I love to read some documentary about everything. I’m right now reading about the life of a sailor on the ocean.
What does BMX mean for you?
BMX mean more than a sport for me. Since it’s not a very big sport like Baseball, for example, everyone in the community, especially in the pro racers community, knows each other. So it’s like a big family, everyone is friends and everyone help each other getting better. Also, locally BMX a family sport for me because everyone in the family can buy a bike and ride a BMX track. We have all the categories from 3 years old to 65 and over so everyone can ride a BMX.
What are the basic problems that professional BMX cyclists have been living during their cycling career?
I would say the injuries. Crashing in BMX is a common thing. Being injured is not that frequent but we all have been injured a few times in our career so that’s why I think it’s a basic problem for BMX cyclists.
What are your main expenses throughout the year?
Travel is the main expense throughout the year for sure. Being an international athlete means a lot of travel and a lot of travel mean a lot of money for traveling.
What is the best way to attract sponsors' attention?
Being performant for sure. Win races and do some good publicity for your own sponsor as well. A sponsor that knows the athlete is making good publicity will tend to be more willing to sponsor him in the future. So being a good ambassador I could say.
What contributions do sponsor brands provide BMX cyclists?
It could be anything depending on the brand. It’s not only just money, it’s rarely the case even. Most of the times, if by example, a clothing brand approaches you, then the contribution will be clothing and it goes like this for all kind of sponsors.
Gaby, how did your life change after your first sponsor agreement?
Well, it’s when you understand that you’re representing someone or something that everything change. You need to be serious about it, you need to think about how you can represent the brand in the best way you can. So it’s about being an athlete in all sphere of your life. It’s also a source of motivation at the same time because people start believing in you.
Could you tell us about your sponsors? What are the brands that you collaborate with?
My main sponsors right is Dk bicycles, Box components, fly racing usa, rechapage 2000. I also have Oakley, Deft Family and physio-santé supporting me for a couple of years now. They are essential for a part of my career so far because any of this wouldn't have been possible without them.
What are your expectations from your sponsors?
The first expectation from a sponsor is to have some views through the athlete publicity. Even in social media than at a competition. The sponsor also wants you to perform the best you can, but for myself and all the sponsors I have right now, performance requirements have never been a thing and I’m glad about it because I think it’s a big source of stress that any athletes don’t need.
What are you paying attention to when a new brand contacted you about sponsorship?
The seriosity of the brand, their involvement in my cause and what I can bring to them in return of their help.
If you had a chance to speak on behalf of all professional BMX cyclists at a meeting with brands, what would you say them for convincing these brands to sponsor professional BMX cyclists?
I would say that an athletic sponsorship is a social commitment which will contribute to a sense of belonging for your team. They will be proud and feel that they are contributing to this success. Sponsoring an athlete gives a new value to the mission and goals of your business. It is the perfect way to illustrate the determination, persistence, and concentration required to achieve goals and aim higher that reflects your team. The sponsorship of an athlete can help you reach your target audience on a personal level, creating a brand image and multiplying public visibility for your business. Athletic sponsorship is the perfect way to give back to the community, to support youth and promote health via athletic accomplishments.
Gaby Malenfant - @thebmxphotographer
Do you have any advice for BMX cyclists who want to pursue a professional career?
I would say never give up on your dreams. Perseverance is the key to success. On the other hand, I would recommend to always keep it fun. A sport is always supposed to be pleasant and when it comes to a task or something like that it’s just not good anymore.
What do you think about social media? How did it affect the popularity of BMX cycling?
Social media are really good for publicity. Then can affect seriously how you publicise all your sponsor supporting you. They are a way to.
How can our readers follow you?
Via my Facebook (@gabymalenfant) page or through Instagram (@gabymalenfant) mostly.
What is next for you?
For the cycling path, I’d say a lot of training this winter for being ready for 2019 season. On the personal side I’m starting university this year. I’m finally done with what we call cégép in my province which is a kind of college between high school and university.
Anything you’d like to add that I haven’t asked?
I might just want to say a big thank you to yourself and Bontena for giving me a chance to tell my story and I’d also like to thanks publicly all my sponsors and all of the people who believed in me throughout my career.
Thank you Gaby for this enjoyable interview.