Venue visit whets Buchanan's appetite
Caroline Buchanan is more primed than ever to qualify for London after seeing the BMX venue for the first time. Photo: Lee Besford
A few days ago, star BMX rider Caroline Buchanan enjoyed a tantalising reminder of why all the hard work is worth it.
As the Australian squad prepares for this weekend's world titles in Birmingham, it gained access to the Olympics track in London for a training session.
Some would-be Olympians might find the experience unsettling as reality dawned on them.
Buchanan loved every second.
"We were in there in the Olympic village with all the stadiums around us and BMX is pretty much right in the centre of everything," she said.
"All the grandstands are being built and they're 22 metres tall - just walls - on either side of the BMX track.
"Just being there and picturing the crowd, just racing at the Olympic Games and what it's going to be like, I definitely had goosebumps.
"I was overwhelmed and I thought how amazing that could be - knowing, in that environment, I could rise to a new level, for sure."
But before London comes Birmingham.
There are no confirmed nominations for the Australian BMX team and the worlds will have a massive bearing on who makes the team.
The world titles should also confirm that Australia qualifies its biggest-possible Games team of three men and two women.
Buchanan, 21, leads Melinda McLeod and Lauren Reynolds in the race for the two women's selections.
She has the world No.1 ranking and, earlier this year, became the first Australian woman to win an international Supercross BMX round.
If Buchanan continues her strong form and finishes on the podium for the race final, she will be confirmed for London.
Last year, Buchanan won a silver in the time trial, but only finished 17th in the racing rounds - and it is the racing form that will be crucial for the Australian Olympic selections.
There are no medals at the Olympics for the time trials, only for the race finals.
"At last year's world titles, I felt confident coming in as well, but nowhere near as confident as I am now," Buchanan said.
"This season has started off pretty perfectly. It's almost been textbook so far."
The elite men and women will contest the time trials at the world championships on Friday, with their racing rounds the following day.