Buchanan fires back at BMX criticism
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Buchanan fires back at BMX criticism

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 of BMX and mountain biking yesterday and was adamant they did not belong on the Olympic program.

Australian BMX rider Caroline Buchanan.

Australian BMX rider Caroline Buchanan.

Photo: Getty Images

But BMX boasts two of Australia's best gold medal chances in Buchanan and the world's No.1 male rider Sam Willoughby.

Both will arrive in London tomorrow before basing themselves in France, as their events are not until the second week of competition.

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.

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

''I feel like we're getting respect and we're not just a backyard sport any more.

''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 to 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 but they are not Olympic gold medal events. They weren't meant to be in the Olympic Games,'' he said.

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 she now wants to prove the critics wrong with a gold medal.

''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. I love my sport and I have a great deal of passion for it. Anyone who doesn't like BMX … we're sticking around.''

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

Buchanan has spent the past month training on the Gold Coast and has been itching to get her chance on the world's biggest stage.

After landing in London, she will drive to a French base to finalise her preparations. Being away from the hype and buzz in London will help Buchanan mentally prepare for the biggest moment of her career.

She had a frantic end to her time in Canberra with her Olympic helmet only being delivered last night.

Buchanan is yet to receive all of her official Olympic kit and will wait until August 3 before entering the party-zone athletes' village.

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The BMX track is one of the main attractions at the Olympic precinct with the action-packed jumps and speed set to be a crowd-pleaser.

''I'm stressing at the moment because I've still got so much to pack and so much to do before I even get into London,'' Buchanan said. ''It's becoming a reality, but I have to make sure I don't race the race before I get there. I don't want to be too overwhelmed, so I'm just trying to stay calm before I get there so I'm ready to go.''