About seven years ago, Chris Clapp and his son Jake were looking around the attic of their Columbus home and ran across some of Chris’ old BMX biking trophies.
That sparked the interest of Jake, who was 6 years old at the time. Now 13, he is one of the top BMX riders in the country in his age division.
“My dad introduced it to me because he rode when he was younger,” Clapp said. “So I came out here to try it, and I loved it, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Clapp won a state title in the 10-year-old division in 2013 and finished second at age 12 last year. He leads the point standings in the 13 Expert division this year.
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Saturday night, Clapp won the 13-14 Open race and added to his points lead by winning the 13 Expert feature in a state qualifier at the Columbus BMX track at Dunn Stadium. The state championships are in September in Portage.
“I hope to win it this year,” Clapp said. “I think (my chances are) pretty good. I’ve been riding really well for the past year and a half, and I’m hoping that will take me to a state championship again.”
Clapp also has won three national titles. Nationals are conducted at various locations a few times a year, both indoors and outdoors.
Two years ago, Clapp placed third in the Grand Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a year after taking seventh at the Grand Nationals in Louisville. Grand Nationals are held once a year, and this year’s are Thanksgiving weekend in Tulsa.
Clapp practices about four times a week at the Columbus BMX track, where his father is president of its nonprofit organization. Chris sometimes takes Jake to Indianapolis or Louisville to practice on weekends, and in the winter occasionally takes him to indoor tracks in Indianapolis, Louisville or Dayton, Ohio.
“Some of the people race for two years, and they’re already really good,” Clapp said. “I started late, and that’s kind of affected me.”
The younger Clapp hopes to qualify for next year’s World Championships, which will be in May in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The world championships, which were in Medellin, Colombia this year, haven’t been in the United States for about 10 years.
Clapp eventually hopes to earn a scholarship to Marian University. The Knights have BMX, mountain bike and road cycling teams and have won national championships the past four years.
“I’m jealous,” Chris Clapp said. “I never made it as far as him as fast as what he did. I’m very proud of him. He’s really made big leaps and bounds, and he loves it. When it’s a sport that you truly love, you can really excel at it.”
Class: Entering eighth grade
Family: Parents Chris and Amanda Clapp, sister Faith Clapp