BMX rider lashes out at Liggett's 'hurtful' sledge

BMX rider lashes out at Liggett's 'hurtful' sledge

London gold medal hope Caroline Buchanan has hit back at BMX critics, dismissing an attack on its Olympic eligibility as ''jealousy'' and insisting the adrenaline junkie-event is no longer ''a backyard sport''.

Cycling icon and Games commentator Phil Liggett launched a scathing assessment on BMX and mountain biking yesterday and was adamant it did not belong on the Olympic program.

Caroline Buchanan in Canberra before leaving for the Olympics.

Caroline Buchanan in Canberra before leaving for the Olympics.Credit:Rohan Thomson

BMX, however, boasts two of Australia's best gold medal chances in Buchanan and the world's number one-ranked male rider Sam Willoughby. Both will arrive in London tomorrow before basing themselves in France, with their events not until the second week of competition. And before leaving their Gold Coast base, Buchanan returned serve by saying spectators will be overwhelmed by what they see when she hits the track at the Olympics.

''Anyone that watches BMX falls in love with it, I don't let what they say affect me,'' Buchanan said.


''I feel like we're getting respect and we're not just a backyard sport anymore. We're starting to get a lot of coverage, maybe it's a jealousy thing ... everyone in the world has owned a bike and every kid rides one.

''Having BMX in the Olympics gives every little kid with a bike something to aspire to.''

Buchanan is the BMX time trial world champion and Willoughby won the world championship moto event in Birmingham in May.

BMX made its Olympic debut four years ago while mountain biking has been around since 1996. Australia has five athletes competing in BMX and two in the mountain bike competition.

Liggett said adding the two sports to the program had been done at the detriment of track cycling.

He said Olympic founder Pierre de Coubertin ''would laugh his head off'' if he found out BMX was part of the Games.

''It might be exciting, but we are talking the Olympic Games ... thousands will watch [the events] but they are not Olympic gold medal events. They weren't meant to be in the Olympic Games,'' Liggett told News Limited.

Buchanan didn't take the criticism to heart, saying she had continually faced adversity to reach her dream. The 21-year-old was too young to be selected to compete in Beijing, but now she wants to prove the critics wrong with a gold medal.

There are a lot of things out there that are hurtful, [but] I love my sport and I have a great deal of passion for it.'

''We are full-time athletes, we train and compete overseas for 10 months of the year and we deserve just as much as anyone to be at the Olympics,'' Buchanan said.


''There are a lot of things out there that are hurtful, [but] I love my sport and I have a great deal of passion for it.''

The BMX competition begins on August 8, with gold medals up for grabs on August 10.

Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.

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