Getting over ditch on road to Rio

Getting over ditch on road to Rio

A delicate balancing act of two disciplines, rubbing shoulders with the nation's elite athletes and redemption at the 2016 Olympics are the driving forces for Caroline Buchanan's BMX world championship campaign.

Twelve months since her shock exit in the championship's racing semi-finals in Birmingham, the Canberra rider will take to the start line at Vector Arena indoor track in Auckland from Friday eager to retain her world time trial title.

Caroline Buchanan is ready to impress in Auckland.

Caroline Buchanan is ready to impress in Auckland.

The 22-year-old is also aiming to shake a run of wretched luck at world titles in the helter-skelter of the racing division.

''It's something with world champs and me in racing, something always seems to happen since I've been eight years old,'' Buchanan said. ''The time trial went really well, but then I was knocked out in the semi-finals.

Buchanan in action.

Buchanan in action.

''This year I think I'm coming in with a different sort of preparation and it's about time I turn it around.''

Buchanan's year so far has included BMX events in the US along with a fourth place in the four-cross category at a mountain bike World Cup round in Scotland.

She plans to combine both disciplines until May next year when qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games begins for the BMX.

"It's definitely been a big stretch this year,'' Buchanan said. ''I stopped doing both the mountain bike and BMX about two years before last year's Olympics and this year got back on.

''I'm the only crazy one in the world to try and do it, but it's a good stretch.''

As is being based at the Australian Institute of Sport full time.

Buchanan is working on increasing her power in the gym and, while she usually trains alongside the institute's swimmers, the appearance of Wallaby David Pocock last week was a welcome surprise.

"I was a bit star-struck,'' she said. ''He came and asked for my photo, and I said: 'Shouldn't I be asking you for your photo?'

''That's a great thing about the AIS, it's pretty inspiring training alongside those great athletes.''

Buchanan is in a camp on the Gold Coast with the Australian BMX team before flying to New Zealand on Wednesday.

Awaiting them across the ditch will be an indoor stadium with sharp corners and a higher risk of crashes.

"It's quite strange because, in the Olympics and a lot of the World Cup events we race at, the tracks are about 40 seconds long, and they're outdoors and open and high speed, whereas at the world championships last year and this year, they're both in indoor arenas and roughly 20 seconds long,'' she said. ''Because it's such a tight arena, it makes it tougher to pass.''

These world championships are another step towards the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Buchanan was the fastest qualifier into the final at the London Olympics last year, but finished down the order when it counted.

''It's crazy that obviously four years is a long time for most people but, in our sport, it comes around so fast,'' she said. ''I use it as motivation every time I train and any event I go into.''

Lee Gaskin is a sports reporter at The Canberra Times.

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