Factory Team Rider / Kai Sakakibara

DK Bicycles — Kai Sakakibara

After a year or so aboard DK bikes, welcome to full factory team status. How do you feel about being promoted to the A team?
I’ve had a lot of respect for the DK brand for many years now. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the past year on board DK, and look forward to working even closer with the DK family as part of the Factory Team.

BMX is a family sport, so seeing siblings rising through the ranks isn't uncommon, but you and your sister Saya have taken your racing to the highest levels. What's the secret to your successes?
There is definitely no secret other than years’ worth of hard work. We’ve both been formally training under the guidance of our coach Troy Fisher since 2007. Saya admits that she gained a lot from training and riding with me growing up. For me, more recently, Saya has provided me with the inspiration to take my racing to another level. She has gone on to accomplish all of the things we dreamed of as kids within her first year in the Elite class!

Who started racing first?

Who got their first main event win, you or Saya?
Definitely me as a kid. Saya wasn’t very competitive in her first few years of racing.

What role has Saya played in your BMX experience?
Saya has been a companion that has shared just about every BMX experience with from racing the local tracks in Japan as beginners, to the World Championships in Elite. We really have fed off each other to bring us to where we are today.

Who are your other influences in BMX?
Other than my parents, I have to say Masa Sampei from Japan has been one of my biggest influences. I saw Masa win his challenge World Title in 2004, and that was what made me realize that it’s possible for Japanese riders (I was living and racing for Japan at the time) to be the best in the sport. I still often turn to Masa for advice and he has been one of my biggest supporters even after I started racing for Australia in 2013.

What is your approach to training and race prep?
“Train as though you’re racing, race as though you’re training” is the mantra that our coach Troy Fisher drilled into us as we started working with him. I like to leave no stone unturned in training so that I can turn up to a race fully confident that I have done everything that I can to be in the best shape possible to win.

How do you prepare mentally for each race?
I like to spend the days leading into an event visualizing exactly how I want the race to pan out. All of my serious work is done prior to the race. On race day I relax, have a laugh, and let myself enjoy the day.

Is there a different approach to the first race after a scary crash or injury?
Not really, and if there is, you probably shouldn’t be racing. I may be timid for the first couple of practice sessions back, but all of that is behind me when I hop on the gate to race again.

Favorite type of riding when you're not at the race track?

Current bike setup?
DK Professional V2 XXL equipped with BOX components, Onyx, Michram Industries, and HT.

Goals for the coming seasons?
Medal at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Follow Kai on Instagram.

Meet the rest of the DK Team.