This Red Bull athlete is definitely one to watch ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics! We chat to her about all things BMX.
How would you describe your sport?
BMX is a fast paced action sport that involves eight riders on BMX bikes on a dirt track ranging from 300-400 metres. The race is only 30-40 seconds long and if you look away for even a second you would miss a big chunk of action!
What does a race involve?
It involves the riders on the start hill, when the call goes, the gate goes down and it is a race to the finish line. ‘Simple!’, you might think. However, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make sure that you are the first person to cross the finish line.
What do you love about it?
There are so many things I love about BMX. Firstly, the thrill. What isn’t there to love about travelling 40-50km/h and getting some air underneath your wheels and throwing in some sweet style? A BMX race gets your heart pounding and adrenaline pumping and it's a feeling like no other.
I love that there is always something new. There are so many factors that go into BMX. There is the gate start, pedalling technique, manualing, jumping, cornering, tactical play and the list goes on. There is always something new to try, and there is always something different to work on which keeps it interesting and fun!
Mentally, how do you prepare for a race?
I think to succeed in BMX, mental game largely comes into play. At a race, the competition can be so tough that most of the riders are pretty much the same ability, and in some cases, the winner can come down to the rider who doesn't mess up.
For me, it is important to not look around me when I’m on top of the start hill. I don't look at who I’m racing and I close my eyes and imagine myself riding a perfect lap around the track. This helps focus on myself only, and avoid stressing over uncontrollable factors of a BMX race.
Physically, what kind of attributes do you need to be a BMX racer?
There is a lot that goes into BMX training, and more than what people think.
BMX is a power-based sport, so you need to be strong in the legs to be able to pedal the bike fast. Core and upper body strength is important too, as you use your whole body to conquer the jumps efficiently.
Skill is a large component in being a BMX racer. Jumping and manualing over jumps on the track are the most simple forms of skill in BMX, but you must be able to do these skills with a fast pace!
You do need some sort of endurance. Although it is only a sprint type sport, it is so important to be able to last the whole lap! The race isn’t over until the finish line and there are so many passes to be made on the last stretch of the track.
How has the sport shaped who you are?
I started basic training for BMX when I was around 10 years old, so through my schooling, high school especially, I had to juggle my school work and training and to be able to do both well. I gained skills in time management, prioritising and compromises, which are so beneficial in the real world.
BMX has made me appreciate and be grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given. With my parents being so supportive, I have been lucky enough to travel the world competing growing up, and now to be able to do it professionally, I couldn’t have imagined living a life like this! ‘Be anxious for nothing, be grateful for everything’ is what I’ve been told and I totally dig it! It teaches me to not worry about the uncontrollables and even if things don't go right, there is always something to be grateful for.
BMX has made me conscious of my actions and the way they influence others. Knowing the way I felt when a Pro rider came to talk to me when I was little, I try to take some time to spend time with the younger riders, especially to girls, and aim to act as a role model.
It’s a dangerous sport with lots of spectacular crashes. How do you deal with the threat of injury?
There is an element of luck involved with BMX and most crashes in BMX are caused by uncontrollable factors. It is important for me to focus on what is controllable to be able to race safely, what happens on the track is what happens, and there is nothing really we can do about it.
Is there anything about BMX racing that people would be surprised to learn?
BMX racing has been an Olympic sport since 2008 Beijing.
At an Olympic standard track, we reach up to 60km/h in 2.5 seconds from a dead stop start!