RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Dallas Gardner is only 13, but his passion for BMX racing has already set him on a course to compete on the international stage.
The expert level biker has high hopes to earn his first world title, despite his soft-spoken nature.
"I just like to win. Even though I know it can't always be about winning, I like to win so… (chuckle) whatever it takes," said Gardner.
There is a competitive fire that burns in Dallas Gardner's eyes every time he puts his foot to the pedal.
"It didn't start overnight that he became an expert," said Dallas' mom, Tanika Gardner. "It took some wins and some practices and some hard work"
His parents, Tanika and Kelly Gardner, noticed his knack for biking when he was just four years old still riding on training wheels.
"I took them off and he rode just fine, perfectly well," said Tanika Gardner.
"I immediately said 'we need to take him to the BMX track, there's one in Richmond!' " said Kelly Gardner.
Dallas Gardner started biking competitively in 2016. When he's not in school, he's at Gillies Creek BMX track in Richmond honing his skills or driving up and down the east coast competing in races.
"I'm the academic manager, and [Kelly] is the BMX manager," said Tanika Gardner. "Sometimes we butt heads, but we get it done."
With just two years under his belt, Dallas has won more state titles, gold cups and national races than his parents can keep up with.
"When I got my first title, I was like 'whoa…what's next?'" said Dallas Gardner.
How about a World title? An ambitious goal, but after missing his chance last year, it's something Dallas and his parents wanted to take another crack at.
"I felt terrible that I didn't give him that opportunity a year before, and I felt like he would have made it," said Kelly Gardner. "That was always a big regret of mine, and I said to him and Tanika, 'next year, I don't care where it's at… he's trying to qualify.' "
After a qualifying race in Florida, Dallas is primed to compete over 6000 miles away in Baku, Azerbaijan in the World Championships in June as a part of Team USA.
Dallas is the only person from Richmond - and Virginia - going to this year's World Championship, where he will be competing as an expert level biker for his age division.
"It's definitely going to be a lot of people watching me, so I just try do my best," said Dallas Gardner.
"My number-one expectation for Dallas is to have fun and give his best," said Kelly Gardner. "If he comes in last place, but he can look at me and say, 'Daddy, I gave my best'…I'm happy."
Dallas leaves for Azerbaijan next week.
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