Matti Hemmings – “Young People Don’t Really Fear Anything”
Michael talks to Matti Hemmings, professional BMX Flatland Rider and finds him to be a lot less “sex maniac” than he first assumed…
I guess it says something about the effect that films such as Kids have had on my psyche that when I think of guys that pursue extreme sports in their freetime or professionally; I think of egotistical, drug taking, sex maniacs.
Now I’m not saying that Matti Hemmings doesn’t have an ego (or isn’t a sex maniac), but if he does (or is), then he hides it very very well.
The professional Flatland BMXer, Guiness Book world record holder and Blue Peter badge owner has appeared on Sunday Brunch, Blue Peter, Nickelodeon and yet still finds time to compete and put on his own Flatland BMXing event.
Despite all his success, Matti Hemmings is not the Champagne Charlie that one might expect from a young man in his sporting prime…
I’m such a city boy, I’m not sure I even remember what fresh air feels/smells like! So what was it like growing up in a place like Brecon?
It’s an awesome place to grow up – there are a lot of adventures to be had around the Brecon Beacons. If I hadn’t grown up there then maybe I wouldn’t be riding BMX today.
How old were you when you got rid of the stablisers on your bike?
I never had stabilisers on my bike. I tried to learn to ride without them straight away, took some time. But managed to pull it off.
Travelling is great but I guess I just miss waking up and being able to go outside and ride at my local spot and hang out with friends. It’s the simple things.
You were involved in the Tour of the Olympic torch in 2012, can you ever see Flatland riding becoming an official event at the Olympics?
Yeah, I could see Flatland BMX being in the Olympics at some point. But it would also depend on the organisers involved and them being able to show the best image for the sport, to give the people on the outside an awesome view.
You must have done so many shows and exhibitions, is there anything you find yourself doing to keep it as interesting as being involved in a competition?
Every show and exhibitions is always different from other events so it always kept interesting. I have also organised my own event called the UK Flatland BMX Championships – this was to bring all levels of riders together to have a awesome time and go away with loads of prizes.
When you see people like Chris Hoy on the Queen’s honours list, do you ever think “I wouldn’t mind a bit of that!” ?
I’ve never even thought about being on the honours list really, it’s not something that would appeal to me. I like giving back and using my skills to support a few different charities, such as Help for Heros & Action Medical Research for Children. Something worth more and hopefully inspiring to others.
When it comes to teaching young bikers, how do you get them through any fears they might have?
When it comes to teaching young people to learn tricks, they all seem to have the confidence to give it a go already. Young people don’t really fear anything, its when you’re older you know it will hurt if you come off.
What’s the funniest/strangest question you’ve been asked by a kid during one of your school shows?
Funniest question a young person has asked has to be “Why is your bike so small?”
Now every one remembers flicking through the Guinness book of records as a kid wishing they could one day be in it for something crazy, so tell us about your place in the record books?
I decided to shake things up and embark on new adventures by attempting a Guinness World Record for the most BMX cliffhanger spins with one foot on the handle bars in one minute. I managed to achieve 56 last year. It’s an awesome feeling to have a record and be in the book.
Talking of childhood dreams, you’ve made it on Blue Peter too! Have you got a badge and is it as amazing as we imagine?
Yeah, I have a badge and its pretty awesome to have one, even if it took a while to get there. Practice makes perfect though I guess.
How do you deal with people that feel the need to criticise or question what you do for a living?
Everyone gets criticised or questioned in what ever you do in life its natural for people to do this. No point letting it get you down best way to deal with it is to just take it on the chin and enjoy life. It’s like a game of chess!
Dynamo or Helen Skelton?
Helen Skelton rocks!
Olympics or World Cup?
Most worn brands?
Dephect, Monkeegenes, House of Marley head phones
Ski or Snowboard?
Let’s end on a bit of a side note, My girlfriend went to Uni in Bristol and is always going on about how much she loves it. Where should I take her in Bristol to really impress her?
Bristol Lido spa is always a good shout – if you don’t get bonus points for that shes a hard lady to please!
To find out what Matti is up to next check out his WEBSITE or follow him on TWITTER @MattiHemmings