Taka Higashino says he’s nervous ahead of the first Red Bull X-Fighters event in his hometown but he starts as one of the favourites.
Seven years ago, Taka left Osaka at the age of 21 heading for the FMX Mecca of California with dreams of becoming a star. And now he’s coming home as one of the best FMX riders the world has ever seen after learning the trade in the FMX hotbed of Temeculah, California.
Higashino – who will be performing at home in front of hundreds of friends, family and his parents for the first time – is seen as one of the hot favourites for the podium for three good reasons.
Firstly he partly scored a solid third place in the last round in Glen Helen, California, secondly he took the freestyle gold medal at the X Games in Brazil and third and foremost, because of his most dazzling trick: the rock-solid flip.
This is so special for me to be home in Osaka
In midair Higashino starts a backflip, then from an upside down position he extends his body off the back of the bike and briefly lets go before pulling himself back on the bike just before landing.
“This is so special for me to be home in Osaka,” said Higashino. “It’s a dream, a crazy dream. It’s all too much in a way. It feels weird that all the Red Bull X-Fighters riders and crew are here in Japan. Welcome to my home town!
"I still can’t believe you guys are all here.” Higashino grew up in the pulsating city, Japan's third largest, just 15 minutes away from the venue in front of Osaka Castle in the city’s famous Nishinomaru Garden.
“It’s pretty exciting to be here in Osaka and I’m really happy that the people of Japan are getting to see FMX", said Higashino.
Higashino, who has lived and trained in California with former Red Bull X-Fighters ace Jeremy Stenberg, has bounced back from a crash in Wuppertal, Germany on August 15, 2008.
But he learned his lessons and has since become one of the world’s top FMX riders with a fluent and entertaining style that puts him in perfect form as he touches down on home soil.