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Ormond Beach Observer Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015 7 years ago

Austin Reece: A martial arts and BMX prodigy

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by: Jeff Dawsey Sports Editor

There is a saying that military soldiers do more before 9. a.m. than most men do all day. Well, Austin Reece has already accomplished more at 7 years old than most will achieve before age 21.

Walking through the hallways of Pine Trail Elementary, Reece will look similar to the rest of the students. But, there is so much more than meets the eye for this third-grader with his signature half-Mohawk hairstyle.

Reece began racing BMX in April of 2012, as a 4-year-old, and, in just seven months he had reached intermediate level after racking up eight wins. In that same month, he also began to train in Stan Lee’s United Martial Arts Self Defense System program as a kindergartner.

“I really like the Nerf gun wars we get to do for training,” Reece said, “but I also like how it teaches me to protect myself.”

Although he’s only 7, Austin has already used those self defense skills he’s been taught — on the race track. Two kids, older and bigger than he, attempted to bully him but found themselves on the wrong side of those bouts.

“One of the times, he had a bigger kid that pushed him, and Austin almost failed,” said Tom Reece, his father. “As I looked around, I saw Austin wrap his legs around him and hit him a couple of times. Then his mother pulled him off. He tries to avoid stuff like that; he’s in it to have fun. Because they only get 25 minutes of practice, bigger kids try to bully the small kids for extra runs.”

While those kids and others have ceased at any attempts to intimidate Reece, he’s continued to establish himself as a winner. A year after moving up to intermediate, Reece reached 25 wins, which made him an expert rider, a level most kids don’t achieve until nearly teenage years. Because of his success, he has to race kids who are nearly twice his age. He can’t go any higher than that in BMX until he turns 16 and goes pro.

Just as quickly as he excelled in the BMX world, Reece has also advanced in United Martial Arts. He’s already earned a high purple belt, which puts him nearly halfway to a black belt and makes him one of the youngest students to progress that far in Lee’s program.

“He is smart and very agile,” said Lee about his student. “Our after-school and summer camp programs are accelerated programs. Most martial arts programs have their students attend class two or three times a week. Our after-school students attend class five days a week, and our summer camp students attend 13 classes a week.”

When asked what he does outside of racing and UMA, Reece and his dad both said, “Train.” Even with a demanding schedule in both activities, Reece still finds time to excel in the classroom, as well. He maintained straight A’s throughout last year, making only one B.

When he gets older, Reece, who rides for Factory Cycle Craft, a Florida-based company, hopes to become a professional BMX racer like Donny Robinson.

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