“I love being a coach, I like being around the kids. They’re funny, make you laugh and help me in so many ways that they themselves don’t even know about.”
Gemma-Lee Thomas from Castle Hill is a rider, she has been for ten years and loves every minute of it. To add to it, she also coaches many up and coming riders from NSW and above all else, is a huge role model for the youngest members of the BMXA family.
But behind the titles, Thomas is woman who just loves her BMX.
“I’ve been riding for about ten years now and I just love it,” Thomas said.
“I ride because I enjoy everything about it. The community, the coaching, one of the best feelings is simply riding on your bike and having so many people look up to you and it makes you want to do better.
“I think my earliest memory would be my first ever national championships in Cairns. I just remember it being so hot and I think I really struggled with the heat. I raced in the 13-girl’s and I think I finished eighth.”
The 22-year from Albion Park has had a year of mixed success on the racing stage. Competing on the national circuit, Thomas finished third overall in the superclass category of the national series, while she finished fifth at the national championships.
But while her results weren’t exactly what she was hoping for, there were other successes Thomas has come away with and knows only too well how hard it is when competing at the top level.
“The last year has been a massive down streak for me,” Thomas continued.
“I broke my thumb twice and had about six months off. I came back a week prior to nationals and the results were okay considering my hand was pretty broken. I was still pretty disappointed though.
“Last year I was a lot more consistent and I just had so much fun. I think my winning performance at the national series round in Launceston was awesome, and also coming second at the nationals in Bunbury was great too.
“I’m really looking forward to nationals next year, I really enjoyed that massive pedal to the finish line, but I also don’t mind if they change it.”
Another aspect of Thomas’ BMX life is her coaching. Her love for racing has been deepened by her mentoring and she admits it’s kept her in the sport for a lot longer. After picking up her beginner licence six years ago, her coaching career didn’t really kick off until she turned 18.
“I really got involved with my coaching when I turned 18 and Castle Hill were great. They gave me keys to the track and I worked as a coach about 2-3 times a week,” Thomas said.
“I’m really happy with the groups that now come to the sessions and it’s a good feeling building them up.”
But above her skills as a rider and as a coach, Thomas has a very strong connection with young riders, and her easy-going nature and friendly face makes her a role model to many boys and girls.
“I feel it makes me smile hearing that,” Thomas admitted.
“It’s a really good feeling and it’s something I’ve always wanted. When I was younger, there weren’t many role models in NSW to look up to and I guess I’ve always tried to do my best and answer as many questions as I can. I wanted to be social so that girls can look up to someone.
“I guess even though I’m 22, I can still go down to their level and keep it nice and simple for them. I love being a coach, I like being around the kids. They’re funny, make you laugh and help me in so many ways that they themselves don’t even know about.”
There were many highlights of the 2019 BMXA BAD BOY National Championships, but one moment in particular was the buddy system between the pros and the sprockets.
Sprockets were paired up with riders during the Pro Spectacular and after the final, the top eight riders got to ride a lap with their pro.
Thomas and her sprocket, Ellie, were a part of that lap and they shared a special moment.
Ellie’s shoe had come off, so a quick pit stop occurred on the first straight. Thomas remembers that moment well and divulged that there were more meetings after it.
“I have met up with Ellie two times since that shoelace moment,” Thomas laughed.
“We hung out at race meets, had some ice cream, it was a cool experience.
Next on the cards for the NSW rider is 2020 and the goals she is setting herself for a very big year of racing.
“I just want to get back on the bike. I want to start riding and training hard and see how I go in the four rounds of the world cup next year,” Thomas said.
“I’m hoping my thumb stays intact and I’m looking forward to all the processes.”