Canberra's Caroline Buchanan celebrates her world title. Photo: Getty Images
A big grin broke across the face of Caroline Buchanan as she sat in the starter’s gate.
She was relaxed. Calm. Confident.
In a touch over 25 seconds after launching down the steep ramp at a packed Vector Arena in Auckland, she became Australia and Canberra’s newest world champion on Sunday.
Thumbs up ... Caroline Buchanan. Photo: Getty Images
‘‘I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,’’ Buchanan told The Canberra Times as celebrations could be clearly heard down the phone line in the background.
‘‘The Olympics didn’t necessarily go my way, so it’s definitely a bit of redemption since then.’’
Barely a month before standing atop the medal dias in the elite women’s racing event, Buchanan had hit what she described as ‘‘rock bottom’’.
Caroline Buchanan takes the lead in the final. Photo: Getty Images
Almost a year had passed since the 22-year-old finished fifth in the final of the 2012 London Olympic Games having entered the event as a geunine gold medal chance.
‘‘I wasn’t going to go into the world championship final and do what I did in London,’’ Buchanan said.
‘‘I had a smile on my face when I was in the gate.
‘‘You definitely have to hit rock bottom to turn things around and open your eyes to different levels you can pull from within yourself.
‘‘That’s what I noticed today. I was able to harness a lot of inner-strength and pull on what happened in London.’’
On that fateful day almost 12 months ago, Buchanan was cut off by eventual Olympic champion Mariana Pajon from the start before finishing fifth.
Tears streamed down her face as her Olympic dreams were dashed.
This time, though, there were tears again - of joy.
Once again, Pajon was in the adjoining start box.
‘‘It was my time to turn that around and take control,’’ Buchanan said.
‘‘Once I cut her off and cleared the pack, I was on the inside and all my runs going into the first turn.
‘‘I was a little bit on auto-pilot to the finish line then it all sort of set in.’’
Pajon encountered trouble in the opening straight and wasn’t a factor in the race.
Buchanan is a two-time world champion in mountain biking and the defending time trial champion in BMX, but this was her first in the racing discipline.
She credits a full-time move to the Australian Institute of Sport and the work she has done with strength and conditioning coach Julian Jones as crucial in her improvement.
Buchanan’s extra power was evident as she dominated her semi-final on the tight and tricky course before putting in a comprehensive display in the final,crossing the line in 25.506 seconds.
Lauren Reynolds was 1.296 seconds back to complete an Australian 1-2.
Following a return to Canberra on Monday to celebrate with family and friends, Buchanan is aiming to complete a world title treble in the next two months.
‘‘I’m looking forward to being home for a short little period, then off to do more world championships with downhill and four-cross in the next two months,’’ she said.
‘‘I’ve got a lot on my plate, but I’m excited and ready.’’
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