X Games BMX medalist discusses bullying


One of the country’s most accomplished BMX riders recently shared a few important lessons about life with Brownstown Elementary School students.

Matt Wilhelm spoke during a convocation to the students, encouraging them to work hard and treat others with respect.

How he reached the pinnacle of his sport was one of the first things he shared with students.

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“Never quit,” Wilhelm, who is a flatland competitor, said during the assembly.

It was important for him to note how he didn’t just hop on a bike and start performing tricks. Wilhelm had to start from the beginning like everyone else, and with enough practice and persistence, he was able to accomplish what he set out to do.

“Every one of these tricks you see me do out here, I was bad at them at first,” he said. “I didn’t quit, I used what I knew and built on it to make them bigger and bigger until I learned the trick I wanted to learn.”

The Chicago native is a three-time X Games medalist, two-time National Champion and a World Championship bronze and silver medalist.

In addition to the numerous medals he has won, Wilhelm is a semifinalist on America’s Got Talent, a winner of America’s Got Talent YouTube Competition and a FOX TV’s 30 Seconds to Fame winner.

Another accomplishment to add to his resume?

A Guinness World Record holder for the most fire hydrant whips in 30 seconds. Wilhelm completed 44 of the whips in that time frame on Sept. 21, 2016, besting the previous record of 15.

The trick is performed when a rider places a foot on the front tire and swings the body of the bike around continuously, jumping over it as it passes.

But, Wilhelm has come a long way from earning medals and setting records.

“Guess what position I got in the first X Games, “ he asked the students. “First? Nope. I got … last place.”

Wilhelm joked that he didn’t fall once during his first performance — he fell four times.

The BMX rider equated this event to another in his life, being bullied as a child. He said he was bullied for his appearance.

“I was into doing tricks on bikes when that wasn’t cool … but what I really got made fun of for was my ears,” Wilhelm said.

He then discussed how words have the power to make someone feel important or unimportant.

Wilhelm used the experiences of both those setbacks to focus and motivate him to try harder.

He also used the setbacks to talk to the students about never giving up, even when things get hard.

Wilhelm said those setbacks were what motivated him to try harder and ultimately to succeed.

Now Wilhelm travels around the country speaking at schools and giving demonstrations with his BMX bike.

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For information about Wilhelm and his message, go to mattwilhelm.com/.


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