“At the end of September I had a race and, in practice, broke my hand and knocked myself out. It was a really low impact concussion.
“I still got up, raced, and qualified really well, somehow, and for me that was the story of my career – always get knocked down and stand back up – and that was the true telling for me that if I get injured I can stand up against it.”
After five years on the World Cup circuit, Taranaki-born Cameron has hung up his number 949 jersey for good.
While the 31-year-old says the decision was a hard one to make, he has no regrets about calling time on his career as a competitor.
In 2016, Cameron focused on getting through to the World Championships in Colombia and had not planned anything past this point other than focusing on gaining selection and competing in the Olympic games.
“The World Championships were in May last year and there was a lot on the line going for Olympic selection. For me, for the first time in my career, I felt like I had zero pressure on myself, even though it was the most pressurised race I’d been in.
“I kept it mostly together, but with that amount of pressure there are people left, right and centre next to you on the gate shitting bricks.”
Cameron finished 12th in the competition, a career best, and was selected as a reserve on the New Zealand team for the Rio Olympics, training with the group in the States before flying back to New Zealand when the team jetted to Brazil.
International BMX racing for Matt Cameron, over and out! #2017 As we approach a new year after a decent break for me, I have had a lot of time to think about what my future looks like through 2017 onwards, what I want to do moving forward and really accessed where my passions, drive and responsibilities lie. With that said, a lot of thinking and coming to one of the hardest decisions in to date, I have decided that now is the right time to hang my bike up and retire from International competitive BMX racing overseas. I will still race within New Zealand, to what extent, I am not sure. My next race will potentially be the New Zealand National Championships in Te Awamutu over Easter weekend (April) to have one last race to see my career out within the Elite ranks before stepping back into a more social setting of the sport of BMX racing. For me at first the decision was a hard one but since I have made it, it has 100% felt the right one. For me I have nothing else to prove to myself or anyone else as I feel I have had a successful career and time in the sport up to date and that’s all I can ever ask for. This past season all I had focused on was getting through to the world championships in Colombia and had not planned anything past this point other than focusing on gaining selection and competing in the Olympic games. Post this phase of racing and training I did a lot of reflection and I had realised that the 2016 season had been a tough one for me in the end both physically and mentally. Not only being the oldest dog on the World Cup circuit by some years, I had also started to struggle to turn up mentally week in week out, race each day in and each day out ready to die on my bike… and as we all know, this is something you need to be wiling to do to reach or stay at the top to keep that edge. For me the past 5 years straight I have been able to switch this on and as we all know in the sport of 2 wheels, you need to be willing to die and put your body on the line to be successful and that was something that has slowly drifted away over the last 6 months making this decision easier. For me the passion of riding a bike has not left, in fact is still very alive and almost gotten stronger, but the passion to wake up on edge ready to mentally turn on 110% has lowered. Over my time in the sport, After taking a break from 2008 – 2011, I have had multiple goals which 80% of them have been achieved. For the 20% remaining, I have come to a point where I know I have sacrificed everything possible to achieve these and can honestly look myself in the mirror and know that this has been done with no stone unturned to reach these goals. I am forever grateful for the opportunity’s 2 wheels has given me from traveling multiple countries racing all over the world, to meeting new people and making life long friendships and family. I can proudly say that this sport has positively changed my life and given me opportunities that I had only ever been fairy tales in my world and background growing. Not only on the bike have I learnt, but off the bike also which has moulded me into who I am today. As anyone has ever experienced in sport and in life, the road is never easy and I would be lying if I didn’t go through patches of wanting to give up but breaking through that only made me hungrier and more passionate to chase my dreams. Writing this, it is amazing what comes up both in my thinking and my emotions of the end of my racing BMX career but I can sit here with a smile on my face. I personally want to thank everyone for all of your support, help and investment this past 4 years as without you there is no way possible that any of what I have achieved would have been a reality. I am incredibly grateful to my loyal sponsors and financial backers who have stood by me through thick and thin! A special mention to:Cycling New ZealandRoyalty BMXBOX BMXRIDE 100%Gatorade New ZealandSport TaranakiFEDERATION CLOTHINGMusashi Nutrition NZI also want to thank all the people who have helped guide me, support me, tell me I wasn’t good enough (that only made me stronger), and to those who have been there through the good, bad and harsh times that being at the top of a sport might throw at you… you have given me a shoulder to lean on when the disappointment became too much. To all the family, friends, coaches, managers, Cycling New Zealand staff, associates and BMX family involved in my journey, THANK YOU… And to my wife, thank you for supporting me this past season. What’s next for me?For me, the passion of riding a bike and BMX is still very alive, almost more alive than it has ever been, it has changed in the way it is expressed. As some may or mat not be aware of, I have been heavily involved with coaching, mentoring and guiding athletes and BMXers to pushing their true potential. The passion I have for this and the will to bend over backwards and help those in need is the same if not more than the passion and drive I had of being an athlete. I will continue to run my coaching business nationally and internationally. My goal with this is to continue to grow, evolve and help others become successful in life both on and off the bike. I will continue to ride my bike every day in some form or another and still want to be competitive with the 100 plus riders I coach worldwide to keep that edge and brain in the high end of the sport, remaining heavily involved in the BMX community worldwide.To all my fellow competitors, thank you for the last 5 years, its been one hell of a ride and good luck to you all moving forward! Ill see you all at world cups and races very soon, just on the other side of the fence without a helmet on in the gate and with no grazes…..maybe a little less of a horse too haha :-p #Nine4nine internationally over and out, NINE4NINE BMX Coaching initiated!Massive shoutout to my man over at Play Creative for putting this together
Posted by Matt Cameron #949 on Thursday, 16 February 2017
At the end of the 2016 season, Cameron says he did a lot of soul searching and during the season, during which he was the oldest on tour by three years, he started to struggle to turn up mentally week in week out, race each day in and each day out ready to “die” on his bike.
“You need to be willing to die and put your body on the line to be successful and that was something that has slowly drifted away over the last six months, making this decision easier.
“For me the passion of riding a bike has not left, in fact is still very alive and almost gotten stronger, but the passion to wake up on edge ready to mentally turn on 110 per cent has lowered.”
Cameron says another factor was the impact the sport had on his body, particularly the ever-present risk of concussions.
“I’ve had quite a few ticked up in my life now on the bike and it sort of becomes a decision between what’s more important – living life or keep pushing forward and risk more concussions.”
Although he will no longer ride competitively, Cameron will continue to spend most of the year in Europe following the World Cup circuit at the helm of his coaching business.
“I’m still going to be at those events but on the other side of the fence. I’ll fly home between World Cups so it’s a bit more of a dream reality for me and I don’t have to risk anything or step up to that mental 110 per cent.”
While he says it was hard at first to come to the decision, it is the right time for him to step away which meant a few less uncomfortable situations as a result of getting out on the track.
“There’s been a lot of sticking to the seats and stinging in the shower because of cuts and grazes over the years, that’s the one thing I won’t miss.”