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trevlon-bmx“If you build it, they will come.”

It is the timeless test of faith — and one Trevlon Hall knows all too well. When he first stumbled upon a sports magazine with BMX Freestyle riding in 1997, the internet was barely a blip on the international radar — and certainly a far cry from the media cacophony we know today. There was nothing of the sort in Trinidad and Tobago at the time, and nowhere to turn to for information or help.
Still, Trevlon saw the vision — to nurture his own development as an athlete, and to chart the trajectory as a pioneer of the sport in Trinidad and Tobago. In 2002, he became the first Trinidadian to enter a professional international BMX Freestyle event. Over the last 17 years, he has created the foundation for the sport in Trinidad and Tobago, fostering its development from obscurity to recognition on the national front. Now the founder of the Trinidad and Tobago Freestyle Association, he guides the development of upcoming athletes, and works tirelessly to build the physical and social infrastructure to support the sport’s development and enrichment.

The Rise to BMX Freestyle

Trevlon’s own process to train in the sport was self-guided — which, needless to say, brought many challenges. Inspired by the images he saw in the magazine 17 years ago, he began practising in the streets in front of his home with a bike — one much heavier that those used by riders today, and far from ideal for the tricks he was performing.
Trevlon Hall, BMX Freestyle pioneer

Trevlon Hall, BMX Freestyle pioneer

“No bike shops carried the products and parts — there was no demand,” he explains. “Everything I used was homemade, or imported from abroad through my own friends and family who helped out.” His efforts resulted in ridicule from his peers and wider community. “People laughed at me — this crazy young boy wasting time in an American-dominated sport, spending 8-10 hours a day practicing when I could have been working at a job or learning a trade. They saw it as a dead end sport,” he says. “But what people need to realise is: what is big was once small. If you look at all the histories of various sports, and at all the founding fathers of these sports we take for granted today — there has always been a story, a process, a journey that someone had to lead for the sport to get where it is today.” He notes that BMX Freestyle is itself a young sport around the globe, having existed only since the 1970s, as opposed to other sports such as basketball, football and cricket that have been in existence since the 19th century. With that in mind, Trevlon knew he had to become the impetus to push the sport in T&T. “I was always looking at the larger macro picture,” he adds. “This wasn’t just about me wanting to learn tricks. There was an opportunity here to truly build something.”

The Art of the Sport

The terminology ‘BMX Freestyle’ itself encapsulates several disciplines — park, street, flatland, vert (on a U-shaped ramp) and dirt trails. Unlike sports where the objective is to beat a time record or score a goal, etc., there are many more variables in BMX Freestyle. Judges in contests look at originality, difficulty, variety and consistency. By its very name — ‘Freestyle’ — it is evident that the key premise of the sport is creativity. While there are trick concepts that are fairly standardised and known throughout the world, such as one called ‘Hang 5’ [when the bike’s front wheel is touching the ground but the back wheel is in the air, and the rider has one foot on the front axle peg], there are always opportunities to create something new. “There are no rules, no laws, no official guidelines of what must be done; as a rider you can envision and bring tricks to reality via consistent practice,” says Trevlon. The key to getting the hang of any trick is persistence and attitude — and this is the true test of a good rider. “And, of course, being a little fearless,” he adds. “I’ve cracked a tooth, broken a toe, and suffered from an advanced stage of carpal tunnel syndrome in my hands… you do have to burn to learn, and be able to get back up if you fall — and you will fall! The same is true in other aspects of life.”

‘Hall’marks of progress

Today, through Trevlon Hall’s efforts, Trinidad and Tobago is scheduled to benefit from its first BMX Freestyle Facility, earmarked for construction in the near future at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima. In fact, it is the world’s first government-sanctioned practice area specifically designed for BMX Flatland and BMX Park — a feat that should not be underestimated. “There is little room for the sport to grow, if persons interested in it keep getting kicked out of areas where they try to practice,” he says. “Over the years I have had to navigate crowded public courts with cricket, football, tennis or other sports actively being played — youths fighting for ‘a sweat’, while I am in the middle of trying to learn something. There is a certain level of respect for other sports — but all over the world, flatlanders have always had to ‘borrow’ a little pocket of space and time… so for us to finally have our own ‘home’ so to speak — that’s amazing.” Another of his significant achievements was the launch of Trevlon Hall Exams, a BMX Freestyle event platform that began with a tour promoting BMX Freestyle via demos at schools and malls, and culminated in a local contest. Within the first few years of its inception, the event expanded to become a Caribbean-wide contest, and in April 2014 evolved into an international contest. The event was organised by the T&T Freestyle Association, and over seventy (70) athletes from twenty-two (22) countries throughout the world attended. “Many people hadn’t even heard of T&T until then,” he says. “The opportunity for Sport Tourism is something we need to be more conscious of as a country. Through our development of something domestically, this becomes a great initiative to attract people from other countries far and wide.”

The BMX Freestyle Association of T&T

“I’ve always tried to think beyond my own vain involvement in the sport as an athlete, and I possess a strong passion when it comes to trail-blazing and the infrastructural development of our sport. There will always be talents coming up as long as we continue to learn, strategically plan and execute,” says Trevlon. “Our role and focus is to push the sport forward and keep building the premise that will enable others to have a better chance. Just like any other association, we face our fair share of challenges and setbacks in the line of duty especially on the grounds of pioneering, but through experience we learn, re-invent ourselves and keep a positive flame burning.” Through the Trinidad and Tobago BMX Freestyle Association which Trevlon founded, he has established a constitution with clear guidelines and objectives of the sport and its future development. The long-term initiatives of the BMX Freestyle Association include: ttfa
  • Increasing the visibility and awareness of BMX Freestyle
  • Recognising and rewarding outstanding BMX Freestyle talents
  • Educating, enlightening and encouraging participation
  • Fostering growth, and opportunity for the BMX Freestyle community
  • Facilitating infrastructural development and true growth for the sport
  • Promoting perseverance, creativity and innovative thinking

The Future of BMX Freestyle in T&T

One of the most important aspects of increasing the sport’s visibility and future viability is to increase public awareness, and also to establish a dedicated home for the sport. He noted that we are, by and large, a visual culture, and public awareness is expensive. He had to get creative in finding ways to get maximum spend from a minimal — and often non-existent — budget. “Every contest I go to, every event, every demo, I always make sure to have a video camera, and then I go and knock on the doors of the local media and give them the clip to show on TV,” he says. “A lot of people do great things and no one hears about it. I’ve had to become a one-man-show — a Leonardo Da Vinci of the sport: video editing, photo editing, building websites, marketing, writing, you name it.” Nowadays, he uses the advances in technology and social media to spread the word. One of the hopeful outcomes of the Trevlon Hall Exams event earlier this year is to help with the development and the promotion of the sport. While he has taken a backseat in the competition aspect as a professional athlete, BMX Freestyle remains close to Trevlon’s heart, and will in times to come. He is pleased to witness and drive the progress of the sport in T&T, and sees his story as one to inspire others. “I came from a depressed community and I was displaced, but I always believe that good things can come from unfortunate circumstances,” Trevlon says. “Every challenge is an opportunity to bring greater things into being.”   ***Trevlon thanks Monster Energy, Blue Waters, First Citizens’ Bank, the Ministry of Sport, Nigel R. Khan Booksellers, the Tourism Development Company and the many others along the way who continue to assist the development of BMX Freestyle.

For more information, visit www.trevlonhallexams.com. You can also visit the Association’s Facebook page, or call him at 1-868-714-9926 or email him at trevlonhall@hotmail.com.