English was only one of the many languages spoken at the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships held in Rock Hill July 25-29.

For help with translations and cultural sensitivity involving the competitors and their families from 48 countries, organizers looked to Winthrop.

Second only in prominence to the Olympic Games in cycling, the World Championships featured competition among world-class amateur and elite athletes. Rock Hill city officials worked with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for the sport of cycling, to sponsor the World Championships.

Held at the city’s Novant Health BMX Supercross Track, the event attracted 3,700 riders and generated an estimated $19.2 million in direct economic impact. Attendance was estimated at more than 19,400 people. The totals exceeded early estimates, city officials said.

Additionally, the webcast of a July 23 preview show and the July 25-28 races broke viewership records with more than 513,000 views by the end of July, making them the highest viewed races in BMX World Championships history.

Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols ’77 thanked the community and many partners, including Winthrop, for playing key roles in the event’s success. “[President] Dan Mahony and his team were with us every step of the way,” Echols noted. “Winthrop is always willing to lead and assist in community efforts.”

Two students, Camila Brito Ynoa and Nicolas Arreste, worked summer internships with the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism and served as translators at the World Championships. “I don’t know if I will ever get a chance to work at a world championship again in my lifetime,” said Ynoa, a French major and business minor from the Dominican Republic. “It was so much more than I thought it would be. It was amazing.”

Conversant in French, Spanish and Portuguese, she worked in the medical tent to help translate for the injured. Ynoa also made announcements on the public address system and provided translations for brochures, directions and the push notifications sent via the event’s mobile app.

Meanwhile, Winthrop staff and faculty members worked alongside city staff assisting with race preparations and in volunteering at the races.

The Winthrop Coliseum hosted the check-in for riders and the orientation for the large American contingent.

International Center Student Tutor LeAnn Lowrey taught a session for city employees and area hotel staff on cultural differences. “We discussed various non-verbal aspects of communication,” Lowrey said. “Most of all, the main message was to have a good attitude, and be prepared to give a nice Southern welcome to our international visitors.”

Winthrop alumni also got in on the action. Hannah Spruill ’11, ’17, Rock Hill’s marketing coordinator for economic and urban development, heavily promoted the event and monitored social media reaction.

“This has been a good experience from a global and cultural perspective,” she said. “We’ve had 48 countries interacting on one account, basically. Working with BMX has been very helpful, especially learning the jargon and talking to different people.”

Winthrop promoted its new Winthrop cycling club during the championships in an effort to recruit students who could take advantage of the nearby world-class Novant Health BMX track.

Jack DeRochi, dean of Winthrop’s Graduate School and event liaison, said the many activities and services Winthrop provided offered students rich opportunities for community engagement and professional development. “We are excited to see what our partnership with the city will bring to our students, faculty and the community,” DeRochi said.

Photo credit: Craig Dutton

Photo credit: Craig Dutton 10

Winthrop students Nicolas Arreste and Camila Brito Ynoa interned with the city of Rock Hill as translators.


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