Two-time Olympian, recent UNLV graduate, and the first BMX gold medalist in United States history, Connor Fields, will go for the gold again at the 2020 Tokyo Games beginning next week. At the age of 28, this may be his last chance to represent the U.S. competing in the sport that he loves.
Fields began racing BMX at the age of 7 when his mom saw a flyer at a local bike shop advertising Nellis BMX, a local track. He has suffered injuries and setbacks, but his passion for the sport and the support of his parents has gotten him through.
In March 2016, as Fields was training for the Summer Games, he broke his wrist and had to have emergency surgery. For four months there was uncertainty of whether he would be able to compete in Rio de Janeiro. Ultimately, he qualified to make the team by discretionary nomination based on his previous results. Fields had only two months of training camp, but he finished in 34.622 seconds and claimed the gold medal for Team USA.
Off the bike, Fields graduated from the Lee Business School in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration management, an education that has already served him well in his professional sports career. Though his long-term plans are uncertain, in the short-term he plans to continue to race. Two weeks after the Olympics are over, Fields will head to Europe where he will compete in the world championships.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Texas but I moved to Las Vegas when I was 4. Pretty much all that I remember is being from here. I went to Green Valley High School.
How long have you been involved in BMX?
I started in BMX when I was 7 years old, but I got serious around the age of 12 or 13. One of the things I like about BMX is that it’s an individual sport. I was always really competitive as a kid and I would get mad at the kids on my teams because they wouldn’t be playing as hard as me. So, I enjoy that it’s up to me and it's fun.
How did you balance training and going to school when you were a student?
I actually enjoyed it. I typically train about five days a week and those days can be anywhere from three to six hours depending on if it’s one session or two sessions. As an athlete, it’s a 24 hour-a-day job. When you’re not training there’s things you have to do to your body whether it’s stretching, seeing a chiropractor, getting a massage, and even resting.
Going to school was a nice change of pace. My life is approximately 90 percent about BMX — so when I went to class I was doing something else with my brain. It gave me a chance to think about something different, learn something, and meet new people.
How have you used your management degree in your sports career?
I have used things I learned in a number of different courses and applied them to my athletic career. I learned things in accounting that helped me understand the tax system better, I learned about branding and marketing, and I learned about investing and the stock market in some of my economics classes.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Olympics?
I am looking forward to competing. When you have trained for five years for an event it is fun to find out just how fast you can go and how good you can be.
What’s next for you after the Olympics?
I am not sure yet. I will take some time off at the conclusion of this season and figure out what is next for me. I don't know yet, and I am OK with that.
Any advice for new students?
Don’t worry if it’s hard or if it’s stressful, or if you think you have to finish in four years. If you just keep punching at it — that’s the most important thing.