South Park grad Cam Bramer takes BMX talents to Pan-American Games
Cam Bramer was just doing what kids do when he was poking around his parents’ basement as a little kid.
Digging through boxes, looking on top of shelves and then he came across a box buried way in the back. As it turns out, the box was loaded with gold.
“I was just being a kid and exploring,” said Bramer, a 2019 South Park graduate. “My mom just hides stuff all the time in the basement, and I was curious. I stumbled upon on trophies, and they were my dad’s from back in the day.
“When I looked a those trophies, I was just amazed. I was like, ‘Wow, how can I get some of those?’ He said that he used to race. I said, ‘Can I try?’ And and a long story short, here I am.”
Where is Bramer? He’s on top of the BMX world. Just like his father, Jim, Bramer not only pulled in a ton of shiny trophies, but the 18-year-old outdid his father and is one of two US Junior BMX riders heading to Lima, Peru for the 2019 Pan-American Games.
“He’s second in U.S. junior elite riders and above,” said Bramer’s mother, Rhonda. “The U.S. tends to send their junior riders. It’s Olympic caliber racing. It’s like ‘Olympic lite.’”
Bramer arrived in Lima in the final week of the games, which run from July 26-Aug. 11. The BMX portion begins Thursday. The games will be televised and livestreamed via the Olympic Channel and NBC Sports’ online platform.
“He’s traveling with part of the USA Olympic cycling committee,” Rhonda said. “The (Olympic) coaches are interested in him. It will be really, really good experience for him. This will be a mental game, physical and the emotional game, which is hard to prepare for at this level of racing.”
Bramer is a familiar face atop the medal stand. His most recent championship came last month in the 2019 Las Vegas Nationals where he earned first place in the 17-20 expert class that included more than 40 riders.
“It was a decision to either race the junior men’s class or 17-25 (years-old) class,” Bramer said. “It was hard for me to gamble, and I ended up picking the junior (class) for the experience and for the opportunities leading into it.”
Bramer’s BMX schedule doesn’t slow down anytime soon. He’s head to Louisville to compete over Labor Day weekend, then off to Rock Hill, N.C. for the World Cup and down to Houston to compete in October. Houston is the site of the 2020 World Cup.
Bramer is ready for the world-wide competition. The BMX track is set up on Lima’s coast on the beach.
“It’s the adrenaline. It’s a contact sport for sure,” Bramer said. “Nobody likes to fall, but I just like going fast, being next to people, elbow to elbow and the adrenaline rush. It’s a great time, and I like making new friends from around the world.”
The greater Pittsburgh area is well-represented at this year’s Pan-American Games. Allegheny Health Network athletic trainer Kevin Kotsko was selected to join Team USA Boxing. Kotsko is no stranger to boxing; he supported both the men’s and women’s teams at the 2014 World Boxing Championships.
“My goal is to support the boxers in any way that I can in order for them to be successful,” Kotsko said. “Over the many years that I have had the opportunity to work with Team USA, there has been no greater reward for me than when the athletes achieve their goals.”
Kotsko also will travel to Yekaterinburg, Russia with Team USA Boxing for the 2019 AIBA Men’s World Boxing Championships this September.
William Whalen is a freelance writer.