When Jose Yanez landed the world’s first backflip in 1985 in front of a small crowd in Arizona, he probably didn’t know what a historical precedent he had just set.
Ever since that fateful day, BMX riders all over the world have been attempting the land that same backflip. And just last year, it finally happened in Malta.
After years of practice and competing abroad, Karl Naja finally landed Malta’s first BMX backflip.
“I learnt how to do it while I was abroad on a trip at the 040 skatepark in Eindhoven,” he told Lovin Malta. “It took me about two days to learn it, one day were I learnt how to land it into a foam pit and another where I landed it on a ramp with a rubber landing. I needed to land it on proper ramp, so I waited till I came back to Malta to try it on our ramp. Luckily I got it first try!”
After landing it, his friends couldn’t stop celebrating, and he said he himself “was super relieved as I was happy that it went well first try.”
As someone who won Best Local Rider two year’s in a row, won competitions locally and abroad, as well as registered BMX as a part of the Skola Sport program, he’s also been a driving force behind transforming the warehouse at Pembroke into Malta’s first indoor skatepark, which Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had inaugurated.
But when you ask him about the beginnings of BMX in Malta, his answer is clear.
“John Zammit. He started the Malta BMX Association in 1986 and till this day, at almost 70 years of age, he is still the president and contributes a lot to our youth in Malta. Last year he won the People’s Choice Award for best official of the year,” says Karl.
“Well, I don’t want to spoil the surprise but I’m working on another trick that hasn’t been done yet,” he says with a smile. “But it’s gonna be a surprise!”