Bloomington 10-year-old uses pedal power to earn 2nd at international BMX competition

Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 9:34 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - Lots of kids spend summer riding on their bikes. So did 10-year-old Malia Alvarez, just not in the way the others did.

She’s been hard at work training to earn a top spot on the world’s stage for BMX biking. Last year, she won fifth place in France, but she wasn’t satisfied.

This year, she won second place in Glasgow, Scotland.

“I put in a lot of work for it and it paid off,” Alvarez said. “It was really nervewracking to be up there.”

“You’re on the biggest stage you can be on right now.”

It’s a culmination of her drive, determination, and competitive spirit. Alvarez and her family travel across the country to compete and train.

It was a hot Wednesday afternoon at her home track in Farmer City but that didn’t stop Alvarez, her brother, or their friend from riding the volunteer-run track at Farmer City BMX.

“We have, I think, devoted everything to racing,” Malia’s mom Amanda Sullivan said. The family lives in Bloomington.

Sullivan also raced when she was younger. The passion was inspired by Sullivan’s uncle. Alvarez and her brother race around on their bikes. Sullivan said she is often begged to take them to races or courses.

“She gives us everything that we ask of her so we are willing to do that for her,” Sullivan continued. “Everything she wants to do we’re going to let her do until she doesn’t want to do it anymore.”

The entire family went to Scotland for Alvarez’s competition. It was a mix of racing and touring. The family got the chance to see a Scotland castle and the country’s signature highland cows. Alvarez celebrated her tenth birthday in Scotland with other Team USA families.

As a gift, Alvarez was given a stuffed highland cow alongside her 2nd place placard.

She also got the chance to meet other young girls from the same country equally as passionate about racing. Alvarez said she met girls from Australia, the Netherlands, and more.

Above all, her drive is clear. Alvarez is already focused on the next race. She has a goal of getting 30 or more consecutive wins stateside.

She will race in Louisville, Kentucky, over Labor Day weekend next.

“I’m definitely highly competitive,” Sullivan said. Alvarez has the same competitive energy.

“The first thing she said to me [after finishing the Glasgow race] was, ‘I’m better than you,’” her mom continued. “Because fifth in the world is the best I’ve ever placed...She raced 62 other girls and hadn’t been beaten by any of them.”

For next year’s international competition, Alvarez is aiming for first place.