Sport

BMX champ Caroline Buchanan pledges commitment to next generation

Olympic BMX rider Caroline Buchanan has recruited two rising BMX riders to her 'Next Gen' stable. Canberra's Mikayla ...
Olympic BMX rider Caroline Buchanan has recruited two rising BMX riders to her 'Next Gen' stable. Canberra's Mikayla Rose, 13, and Sydney's Paige Harding, 10, will work with Buchanan as they aim to take the next step in their careers. Photo: Adam McGrath Hcreations Photogra

Olympian Caroline Buchanan has two of Australia's greatest athletes as mentors and now she wants to usher in a new generation of BMX stars, even if it means grooming a ''mini me'' to take her place as the sport's queen.

Inspired by the support she has received from surfing icon Layne Beachley and marathon legend Robert de Castella, Buchanan has recruited two rising BMX riders to her Next Gen stable.

Mikayla Rose, 13, from Canberra and Paige Harding, 10, from Sydney will work with her as they aim at their next careers steps.

It's a concept Buchanan has started after being supported by Beachley since she was a teenager.

''There's not much support for younger BMX riders, especially female riders,'' Buchanan said.

''These girls are going to be nipping at my heels in a few years … They're basically little mini mes riding around.

''In BMX you need an inner mongrel, something that's a point of difference in the female category. These two girls have that fight, I've seen the mongrel. They're little fighters.''

Mikayla and Paige will get access to Buchanan's sponsors this year as they chase junior world titles.

Buchanan is also aiming to raise up to $10,000 for the duo to compete at this year's world championships in the Netherlands.

If anyone knows how hard it is to follow dreams as a female athlete, it's Buchanan.

''There were times when I was down and frustrated being in a male-dominated sport, you don't get the support,'' Buchanan said.

''It affected me. Layne Beachley helped me beat that. That was the difference for me and helped get me through.''

Beachley has an active role in mentoring junior female athletes with her Aim for the Stars Foundation and de Castella teamed with Buchanan in the lead-up to the London Olympics.

Buchanan has known MacKillop College student Mikayla since she was six.

''She can even unicycle and I can't do that,Mikayla's a natural,'' Buchanan said.

Mikayla's home is plastered in Buchanan memorabilia and she is aiming to challenge Buchanan for a spot at the 2020 Olympics.

Despite being just 13, she had a knee reconstruction last year.

''One day we were going to go shopping, I made it 15 metres and my knee dislocated … we didn't go shopping,'' Mikayla said.

''Caroline has definitely inspired me. Anything she does, I just love it. I'm so excited to get this opportunity. I already feel like I can do more and that I'm more confident with my riding.''

Buchanan has won world titles in three different cycling disciplines, but she still relied on her parents' financial support to get to the 2012 London Olympic Games.

''A female professional athlete has to have the whole package, as opposed to a guy who can just be good at sport.

''You have to have a job or go to uni or do three sports instead of one, you have to be a standout.

''It's testament to females that even without that support, we've achieved so much.''

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