50 worldwide contenders for 2012: Maris Strombergs

Cycling (BMX)

Latvia

Born : 10/03/87

Career highlights

Strombergs won the inaugural BMX men's event at the 2008 Olympics, taking an early lead and keeping his nerve to claim gold in a crash-strewn final. It made him Latvia's first ever Olympic cycling champion.

He won the world title for the second time in 2010 and was a silver medallist the following year.

Olympic history

  • 2008 - gold

Career lowlights

He had a major crash during a race in the USA in November 2010. He was left with a broken hand, a dislocated wrist and a damaged shoulder and needed two lots of surgery, which left him unable to compete for over six months.

Career background

Strombergs took up BMX when he was five years old - despite his initial reservations. He explains: "My parents' friend's son rode, and my dad decided to bring me to the track. I started crying and I said 'Dad, that's not for me.'"

But he soon changed his mind and earned European junior gold in 2005, progressing to the senior title three years later. He moved to California after his Olympic triumph to begin a professional BMX career.