LONDON – If this is the expression of a nervous gold-medal favorite, Connor Fields is either a terrific actor or in a wonderful place entering his first Olympics.
The face of BMX racing and Green Valley High School alumnus finally arrived with the rest of his U.S. teammates to prepare for a competition that begins Wednesday and will crown its medalists Friday.
“I was super antsy to get here, especially after we watched opening ceremonies” from San Diego, home of the team’s training site, the 19-year-old Fields said at a team news conference Saturday. “I couldn’t wait to pack. There is obviously some pressure, but it’s the kind I put on myself. My friends and family will love me no matter what.
“I just want to finish knowing I gave everything I had. If I can look myself in the mirror when it is over and say I did my absolute best but didn’t medal, that’s OK. But I believe my absolute best and a little bit of luck will earn me a medal. That’s the goal.”
It is more than achievable if you ask those who know Fields the racer best, those who have watched him win four of seven major competitions since January, including three World Cup races.
They first noticed him in 2008 in Salt Lake City, where Fields qualified third in his first Supercross race. They noticed a big, strong kid whose father had played rugby and obviously passed on a high level of athletic skill.
“Connor is an animal, a very gifted and talented kid with the physical features and track speed you want,” said Mike King, program director of the U.S. team. “He’s not your average 19-year-old. If you ask him, he will say he’s going to win the gold medal, and he absolutely can. He has that strong a work ethic.
“We knew he would be good coming into the program. We knew right away he would come in and make some noise.”
A gold medal would be ear-splitting.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.