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Brazil's Best

Gilmar Flores is somewhat of a lone ranger in Brazil. While most of Brazilian freestylers live in the south east region of the country, Gilmar lives in the densely vegetated city of Sinop, in the western state of Mato Grosso. He defines himself as a simple country guy, but don't let his mellow speech or his interesting nickname Joaninha (which translates to ladybug) and last name Flores (means flowers in Portuguese) fool you. He's a badass when he swings a leg over his bike.

Even after performing several demos all over the country and winning the Brazil FMX Cup four consecutive times, he's still on the prowl for more. Will we be seeing Flores riding stateside with the world's best riders in the near future? Let's just say it's a good possibility.

ESPN: So Gilmar, for those who don't know you, can you introduce yourself?

Gilmar Flores: Well, my name is Gilmar Flores and I'm 29-years-old. Here in Brazil people know me as Joaninha [ladybug], and I started in FMX in 2003. I'm a quiet guy who likes the country life and I love to have good times with family and friends. And off course, I also love to ride dirt bikes!

How did you get started riding dirt bikes?

I worked in a motorcycle garage for a while, ran by a guy named Beetle. I used to a lot of dirt bikes there and I always want to ride them for myself. So, I bugged my mom to buy me one, and she did. As soon as I got it, I started racing.

I love the Brazil FMX Cup not only because I've won it four times in a row, but because the positive vibe that I receive from the crowd. It's crazy because those two days of competition can guarantee my whole year.

-- Gilmar Flores

What about FMX? When did you know you had a knack for hucking tricks?

I love the Brazil FMX Cup, not only because I've won it four times in a row, but because the positive vibe that I receive from the crowd. It's crazy because those two days of competition can guarantee my whole year.

So, tell us about your career so far. You stay busy, right?

Yeah, as I said, everything started when I quit racing. Jorge Negretti invited me to spend some time in San Paulo, practicing with riders like Natan Azevedo and Cyro Oliveira. Then, everything really started taking off -- demos, contests on TV and international contests. I recently started my own team and show -- Joaninha Pro Tork Freestyle Show -- and I keep fighting to make my mark on the sport.

What has been your greatest accomplish so far?

It's pretty hard to pick just one. Every conquest is special to me because hey have happened during different stages of my career. My first appearance at the Red Bull X-Fighters in Mexico City was great, and also the Red Bull X-Fighters Brazil, where I defeated Brice Izzo. There is also X Games in Brazil, and most recently, Night of the Jumps Brazil -- which I took the fifth place at.

But, even though those contests were highlights in my career, I must confess that the Brazil FMX Cup holds a special place in my heart. I love the event, not only because I've won it four times in a row or the insane exposure from the media, but I love the positive vibe that I receive from the crowd. It's crazy because those two days of competition can guarantee my whole year.

What's your main goal for the future?

Well, I've got a few actually ... First of all, I want to be recognized as an international rider and travel abroad so that I can ride in other contests. I think I'm prepared, I just need invitations. Besides that, I want to continue to work on developing the FMX scene in Brazil. I mean, I'm 29 and I'm planning to ride for four or five more years. Starting this year, I want to create a motocross school in my city and maybe we can help develop some new FMX riders. In fact, we already got some good talent here, like Zoio, who just made his debut at the Brazil FMX Cup.

What are you plans for this season?

I want to ride in as many contests as I can. Of course, I also want to stay busy with demos because after all, that's how I pay my bills. Sometimes it's pretty hard in Brazil because we don't really have a schedule of events, and a lot of times we hear of a competition just two weeks before it takes place. But I know this is part of the developing process, so hopefully it'll get better soon.

We're working on a partnership with the local government in order to create an action sports center. I hope that works out!

-- Gilmar Flores

At this moment you're the only Brazilian freestyler that has mastered the flip. What was your motivation to learn the trick?

I love the event, not only because I've won it four times in a row or the insane exposure from the media, but I love the positive vibe that I receive from the crowd. It's crazy because those two days of competition can guarantee my whole year.Well, I wanted to be different. I thought to myself, "If I want to be different, I have to do more than the average Brazilian riders." So, I started to practice and eventually I nailed the flip and the recognition was the result from landing it.

We're working on a partnership with the local government in order to create an action sports center. I hope that works out!

Well, everything started when I moved to San Paulo. Basically, we had a ramp and a little bit of foam -- almost no foam actually. I jumped a few time just tilting my head back, until I got courage to try the spin. Thank God it worked out! [laughs]

And how is your compound nowadays?

Well, it's a lot better than when I started to flip [laughs]. I practice at a friend's spot, and basically we've got two jumps and a foam pit. It's a good place for practicing, but I want to build my own compound closer to my home sometime this year. We're working on a partnership with the local government in order to create an action sports center. I hope that works out!

You're one of the first guys I've seen to try an under flip nac in the box in a contest. I heard a few rumors that you're working on shaolin flips and cordova flips ... Is that true? Are you working in anything else?

Yeah, I got shaolin flips and cordova flips dialed in the foam pit. I guess it won't be hard to land it on dirt. And I've been thinking about other combos as well, but I have a limitation with some tricks due to my injured shoulder.

How would you describe yourself as a rider? I'm talking style, execution, variety, etc ...

Well, I'm a small guy. I'm only five and a half feet tall, which makes my movements on the bike easy. I can easily move myself from the handlebars to the seat and vice-versa. On the other hand, I think it messes up my style at times. I mean, tall guys seem to get more stylish extension. But I hold my tricks until the last second to make up for my lack of height.

I'd love to have an international career. I truly believe if I get all equipment required and I practiced more, I can reach the highest level in the sport.

-- Gilmar Flores

What are your thoughts on the Brazilian FMX scene?

I think it's getting better and better, especially the level of the riders. Nobody is tapped out -- every rider is looking for improvement. Some riders are working on the flip, and it's only a matter of time until they start landing them in contests.

We still need a stronger National FMX Championship, but I'm quite optimistic, and I believe we'll have a real solid scene in the future. I'm not sure if I'll still be riding when it reaches that point, but I will for sure be involved in some way or another.

So, I'm curious -- as I'm sure other people are too -- where did your nickname ladybug come from?

[laughs] It's beause of my size and my first job. My former boss was a big guy and his nickname was Beetle. So, people just started calling me Joaninha (ladybug).

[laughs] Have you ever thought about changing it for something, say, more aggressive? Maybe scorpion or spider?

[laughs] No way man! I like the nickname. Ladybugs can fly, but spiders and scorpions can't!

Okay, back to being serious. One of things that really impress me is how the fans love you so much. You're a quite charismatic person and a definite fan favorite. Do you think your quiet and humble personality has anything to do with that?

Maybe ... but it's all me, I'm not acting. I think it's the way I was I raised by my mom. I'm quite humble, and since I was a kid lived with a lot of people, without making any kind of distinction. I think that being born and raised in the country also helped me to have my mellow outlook on life. As for the fans, when they come to me for autographs or whatever, I just try to give them my full attention.

So, last season you finished fifth at the last round of IFMXF Night of the Jumps in Brazil. Do you truly think that you have what it takes to have an international career?

Yes, for sure! I'd love to have an international career. I truly believe if I get all equipment required and I practiced more, I can reach the highest level in the sport.

Do you have any last words you'd like to say to the readers of ESPN.com/Action?

I'd like to thank for the opportunity to do this interview. I'd also like to give you props on the good job you're doing promoting the Brazilian scene and the Brazil FMX Cup. And I'd like to say thanks to everyone who supports me, and to my sponsors, Pro Tork, Unimed Norte Mato Grosso, Yamaha e Fa├ža Web sites.