Chile’s ‘Astro Boy’ – motocross freestyle champion of the world

Javier Villegas makes history by becoming the first non-European to win one of the most dangerous championships on earth.

Chilean sport celebrated another world champion on Saturday December 17, when Javier Villegas won the Freestyle Motocross World Championship (FMX) of the International Motorcycling Federation, topping of a year that also saw international triumphs in archery and triathlon.

In the Bulgarian capital of Sofía and before a crowd of 10,000 – which included the country’s Prime Minister – the competition came to a conclusion in a spectacular show-down between the young Chilean and his French rival, Remi Bizouard.

Villegas had already deposed of reigning champion, Libor Podmol of the Czech Republic, and thanks to a brilliant season (video), had built up a substantial lead over the red hot Bizouard, who had won the previous three events.

The two put on a death-defying show, trading Suicide Backlip Lockback and Tsunami Flips with Cliffhangers and Heart Attack Flips, and although the Frenchman prevailed on the night, Villegas did enough to secure his maiden title and become the first non-European to win the title since the FMX competition’s inception in 2006.

Villegas’ 2011 campaign was so brilliant that he failed to reach the podium in only one of the championship’s 12 events. That occasion, held in the Russian city of Penza, marked a turning point for the Chilean daredevil.

”A fall or an injury can ruin your weekend, but worse than that was not to have given it everything,” he said. “From then on, my mission was to be among the top three by giving the most effort. And I was.”

The gutsy and determined Chilean has made it his priority to repeat the championship in 2012. “It’s not enough to be a consistent rider, a solid rider,” said Villegas, “you’ve got to do better every time.”

Depending on his performance, Villegas will also particpate in this year’s Red Bull X-Fighters competition and seek a place as a head rider in the X-Games, the main annual event for extreme sports, to be held by the broadcaster ESPN from June 28 in Los Angeles, United States.

In the meantime, however, Chile’s motorheads are no-doubt tuned into the 2012 Dakar Rally, which is currently racing through Argentina, Chile and Peru.