Aerial acrobat heads north

By Hannah Norton

Fresh from his national tour with Nitro Circus, top Kiwi freestyle motocross (FMX) rider Luke Smith will perform for the first time in Northland this weekend.

In conjunction with new Whangarei store Motorcycle Lab, Smith will give a free show at the Lower Dent St north carpark behind Pacific Motor Group on Saturday.

After a recent assault on Nitro riders in Auckland city, Smith feels much safe performing in Whangarei than in the "big city".

"It's just a shame the big cities [like Auckland] seemed to get filled with jealous idiots."

In the well-publicised assault, Smith's jaw - healing from a 3-month-old fracture - was rebroken in the assault. Injuries have not held him back - he completed the nationwide Nitro Circus tour with both a broken heel and broken jaw. "I broke my heel in 15 places ... I have to walk with a crutch but it doesn't stop me riding my bike," he said.

And this has been on his career comeback - three years ago, he suffered serious head injuries in a crash and had to learn to walk and talk again.

"I suffered a traumatic brain injury, bleeding and swelling on the brain and frontal lobe damage.

"I was in an induced coma for eight days then a brain injury rehab clinic for five months."

The last three years have been filled with hospital appointments and rehab, but the downtime meant he focused energy on creating a motocross graphic design company and clothing brand - Moto Mayhem - which he is launching on Saturday.

"It is a proven fact that brain injury patients find their creative side in the rehabilitation, due to being frustrated at not being able to get the words out due to your brain's damage and linking the connections to say how you are feeling," he said.

"After years of being around an industry I loved and being told that I was no longer able to ride a bike, this was my closest outlet to stay around the industry."

Motorcycle Lab owner Glenn Smith believes it's the first FMX event in Whangarei. "I'd like to see it become a yearly thing - if we get enough support it could be," he said.

- Northern Advocate

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