The UCI 2017 BMX World Championships kicked off Saturday evening with food trucks, live music, BMX stunts and children’s rides in downtown Rock Hill.
City officials expect the championships to draw about 20,000 spectators and about 3,500 competitors. This is the first year the UCI BMX World Championships have been in the U.S. since 2001, when they were held in Kentucky.
David Dorofee of New Jersey said his son, Andrew, is competing in the 12-year-old boys challenge group.
Dorofee said Andrew has been racing since he was 4, but the family couldn’t afford to go to previous world championships out of the country.
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“We found out two years ago, and he’s talked about it ever since,” Dorofee said.
Dorofee said he’s impressed by how the city is running the event.
Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols said the event has been in the planning stage for three years, and about 1,000 people are volunteering to work the championships.
“Our citizens are our greatest asset as a community,” Echols said.
Echols said the event draws attention to South Carolina and the city’s sports tourism industry.
“It puts Rock Hill, South Carolina, and our entire region on the world stage,” Echols said.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., thanked Echols for his “visionary leadership” and called the championships the “greatest international sporting event in our state’s history.”
Darnell Binghal of Colorado Springs said this is the first BMX world championships his family has been to. His daughter is competing in the 14-year-old girls challenge group.
“I’m looking forward to hanging out with the family,” Binghal said, “and watching my daughter perform.”
Theresa Barker of Fort Mill said she came out to the opening ceremonies just to get out of the house.
She said she isn’t surprised by the number of people expected at the event, because she’s been hearing so much about it.
“I believe it because I couldn’t find a parking spot,” she said.
The championship is July 25-29. Visit rockhillSCbmx.com for more information.
Hannah Smoot: 803-329-4068