Olympic Veterans, First-Timers Follow Their Dreams To London

'It's something I've aspired to and dreamt of my whole life,' BMX racer Arielle Martin tells MTV News.

Starting this weekend, the world’s top athletes will be competing in the biggest and most prestigious event in sports, the 2012 Olympic Games, in London. The Olympics have always been the place where the most elite sports figures show off their talents. But until recently, BMX racers weren’t among them.

BMX didn’t become an official Olympic sport until the 2008 Games in Beijing, China, where BMXer Arielle Martin participated as an alternate. In London, she’ll compete as a member of the U.S. cycling team.

“It’s something I’ve aspired to and dreamt of my whole life,” she told MTV News earlier this year. “It is the highest level. For me there’s nothing greater.”

Martin’s teammate Nicholas Long will also be competing as an Olympian for the first time. “It’s definitely the biggest goal,” he said. “My dad always talked about BMX being in the Olympics, and now that it’s finally there, since ’08, it’s super-cool.”

When he was younger, Race Imboden competed in BMX. Since then, he’s shifted his attention to a very different sport: fencing. At 19, Imboden is one of the top-ranked fencers in the world. He’s wanted to go to the Olympics since he started fencing at 10 years old, and now he has his chance. “It’s surreal right now,” Imboden said. “I can’t even put it into words.”

Another U.S. fencer, Timothy Morehouse, is making his third trip to the Olympics. “I’ve dreamed since I was a little boy watching the Games of being an Olympian,” Morehouse said, and he’s excited to be back. “It’s the Olympic Games — that never gets old. I’m sure if I go to 10 Games, I’ll never get tired of it.”