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She's got a ticket to ride

Date

David Polkinghorne

BMX world champion Caroline Buchanan is on track for Olympic gold, David Polkinghorne writes

"I want to be on top" is the catch cry of hit show America's Next Top Model, making it an apt favourite show for Canberra BMX star Caroline Buchanan, who is hoping to be on top of the podium at the London Olympics in August.

Buchanan's life is consumed by her sport. This year, she has spent only two months at her Tuggeranong home; even after the Games she'll have only 11 days there before Christmas.

With so much time spent on the road, one constant wherever she goes is reality television – and ANTM is shown in 170 countries.

No matter where she is, there's a fair chance she'll get her fix.

"My wind-down time, when I'm not at home and not with my dog, is when I'm on the road I love watching reality, junk TV – Keeping Up With the Kardashians and America's Next Top Model are my favourite," Buchanan tells Relax.

Such a nomadic life has made her Australian BMX teammates and support crew her new group of friends.

Luckily, her boyfriend Barry Nobles, the "Alabama Slamma", is also on the tour, limiting the number of long-distance phone calls in the wee small hours of the morning.

She does, however, miss her family, and her puppy Diesel, when she's tearing up tracks around the world.

"[Nobles] is on the US Olympic team; they've got their last trials race in a couple of weeks and he's hoping to make the US Olympic team and be in London with me," Buchanan says. "It's good having him because he's on the World Cup circuit with me and knows exactly what I'm going through and we're travelling the world and doing the exact same tour."

The 21-year-old grew up in Duffy but moved to Tuggeranong after the family home was burnt down in the 2003 fires.

She has known Australia's marathon man, Robert de Castella, who won gold at the 1983 world championships in Helsinki, since she was nine and regularly catches up with him for lunch.

If one world champion mentor isn't enough, Buchanan also has Layne Beachley in her corner, through the seven-time world surfing champion's Aim For the Stars Foundation for female athletes.

Like all good athletes, Buchanan is a competitor and has set herself the goal of equalling Beachley's haul of world titles.

She's almost halfway there already with three of her own.

Buchanan won the BMX time trial at the world championships in Birmingham three weeks ago and is also a dual world champion in mountain-biking discipline four-cross.

But she wasn't sure how an Olympic gold medal would count.

After 11 days back in Canberra, Buchanan flew up to the Gold Coast last Wednesday for a training camp.

Then she's off to Salt Lake City to compete in the lead-up to what will hopefully be her first Olympic Games.

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