With his Olympic hopes on the line, Mike Day delivered the race of his life Saturday.
Day won the U.S. BMX trials in Chula Vista, Calif., a dominant performance that secured a spot on the three-man team that will represent America when BMX makes its Olympic debut in Beijing this summer.
Knowing his only way onto the Olympic team was to win the trials, Day set the tone by winning the first race and eventually held such a large points lead that the final heat of the day was canceled because no one could mathematically catch him.
"I have no idea how I feel. Beyond belief," Day told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "So many of my friends and family were here, they made the pressure somewhat tolerable and now I'm going. I'm going!"
Day joins Kyle Bennett on the U.S. squad; Bennett was exempt from the trials because he won USA Cycling's yearlong Olympic points qualifying competition. Day's eyes were red with tears when he, Bennett and women's BMX Olympic qualifier Jill Kintner were summoned to receive the jerseys they'll wear in Beijing.
"It's kind of a surreal feeling," Day said.
The third spot on the men's Olympic BMX team a discretionary selection by the team's coaches will almost certainly be awarded to Donny Robinson, the world's top-ranked BMX racer. Robinson finished second overall Saturday.
Day finished with 32 points, Robinson had 21 and David Herman was third with 13.
Day won the trials on a replica of the course that'll be used in Beijing on Aug. 20 and 21. USA Cycling and the U.S. Olympic Committee spent more than $500,000 on the facility, which was constructed by the same person who built the Beijing track, Tom Ritzenthaler.
Day has always been a fan of the course, never more so than Saturday.
He won the time trial to start the trials, then the first heat or as it's known in BMX, a moto. He finished second in the next moto behind Robinson, then won the third and by then, it was a two-man race.
Day never faltered. The Olympics have been his motivation for four years, and soon, they'll become reality.
"Mikey, plain and simple, rode the best today," Robinson said. "He deserves it."
Robinson won't officially learn his Olympic fate until after June 25, when USA Cycling begins a two-day meeting to discuss the discretionary selections for BMX, road, track and mountain biking. USA Cycling has until July 1 to formally announce its decisions.
"I've done everything I could do up until now," Robinson said, "other than be in Kyle or Mikey's position."
Day skipped the world championships in China two weeks ago to get some more training time on the Chula Vista course, since he knew the Olympic trials represented a win-or-else scenario for his Beijing hopes. Clearly, the extra work paid off.
"When everyone else was in China, I was doing my own mock trials here," Day said. "I felt the most prepared, for sure."