By Pablo Jaime Sainz
The four-year-old boy is pedaling very fast on his bike, going down a hill. Suddenly, the front tire hits a rock, the boy tries to maneuver, but it’s useless: his face goes straight to the concrete.
On that occasion Iggy Silva III lost two of his front teeth and he got a swollen upper lip.
His father, Ignacio Silva II, ran towards him, trying to give him first aid. An ambulance came and over at the hospital they had to perform a minor oral surgery on young Iggy.
It’s been almost nine years since that accident.
“It is one of the biggest memories I have on a bicycle,” said Iggy, who is now 14 years old.
A young champion
Far from that incident, today Iggy has much more cycling experience. He’s one of the few Hispanics, and probably the only one from San Diego, making a name for himself in track cycling.
“He’s considered one of the five best cyclists of his generation,” his father Ignacio said.
Iggy lives with his father and his grandmother. He also has a little brother, six-year-old Eddie, who admires his older brother, Ignacio said.
“I get along pretty well with my little brother. He likes music a lot. I don’t see him often, but we spend really good times together,” Iggy said.
According to his dad, “Iggy is a great role model for his brother.”
Although he started his cycling career when he was barely 8 years old, Iggy doesn’t see it as a profession or as a job.
“It’s fun. I just like it and that’s it,” he said. “The truth is that I don’t even think about it. I just do it and have fun.”
Than humblenes is what his father admires in iggy.
“It makes me proud to see the way he behaves,” he said. “He’s not a show-off. He rarely mentions in school that he’s a track cycling champion.”
Outside the world of track cycling, Iggy is a normal teenager: He likes video games and playing football with his friends.
In addition to bicycles, Iggy, his dad said, has a great ‘passion’ for food. “He’s not obsessed about it, but he likes to eat good!,” Ignacio said, laughing.
Iggy just smiled and said: “I like pasta and taquitos a lot.”
But of course, what Iggy loves the most is to compete on his bike.
Iggy’s achievements in track cycling are many, even though he’s barely 14.
Almost four years ago, while still in middle school, he participated in his first triathlon, where he competed against high school students. One of his biggest achievements has been becoming state champion at the age of 9.
In 2002, Iggy was regional champion in Baja California, but organizers took his medal away, alleging that Iggy, by putting his arms up when he crossed the finish line, was showing-off and didn’t deserve the medal.
So they gave the prize to another cyclist.
“It was a clear case of injustice,” said his father Ignacio. “Iggy made it first to the finish line. He’s still a champion even if they took away the medal. He doesn’t need a prize to know he’s a champion.”
Iggy, meanwhile, doesn’t even care.
“I wasn’t too happy about it, but I didn’t cry about it either,” he said.
In the summer of 2003, Iggy went to the national track cycling competition in Texas. As recognition to his work, a cycling shop designed a bicycle in his honor that year.
He needs support
“Cycling is a sport for rich people,” said father Ignacio. “I work in landscaping, I don’t have a lot of money to purchase the equipment Iggy needs for the competitions.”
Iggy has received many donations from private companies, he said.
“I wan to thank those who have helped me,” said Iggy. But in order to continue his dreams in track cycling, Iggy needs the support of Hispanic businesses.
“I know that if they believe in me, I won’t disappoint them.”