The USA city of Rock Hill, South Carolina will this week be transformed into a BMX mecca as more than 3,300 riders from 40 nations vie for world crowns, and leading a healthy contingent of 274 Australians will be Olympians Anthony Dean and Caroline Buchanan.
Both Dean and Buchanan came away from the 2016 Olympics motivated to improve themselves as riders. In his debut Games, Dean came firing out of the gate to be the early fast man. But come the final he wasn’t able to replicate his dominant form. Meanwhile Buchanan crashed out in the semi-finals.
For Dean, the Olympic experience stoked his desire to reach the top of the sport, and the Adelaide local knows that he is in good shape coming into the Rock Hill extravaganza.
“Mentally I am ready and anxious to get out there and do the job. I have had a great lead in, and if I am ever ready now is the time,” expressed Dean.
“Last year the Olympics were a good showcase to myself of what I can do in the pro class. I think my preparation for this world championships event has been just as good as the Olympics.
“I’m very excited to prove myself this year. The Olympics only added to my motivation.”
At the other end of the spectrum the 2016 Olympics were a tale of heartache for Buchanan as she missed out on the opportunity to race for a medal after being a pre-event favourite. Unlike Dean, the reigning Australian women’s champion hasn’t beefed up her BMX program, rather she has satiated her competitive drive on her mountain bike in the Crankworx series
“Crankworx has been unreal, it’s the first year I’ve been able to commit to the series. It’s been really refreshing,” beamed Buchanan.
“I love riding bikes, so at these events I get to bring three different bikes to race four categories, it’s just days in a row on your bike. It’s been a big benefit as the training is slightly different, there has been a benefit to my mental approach and I’ve made significant gains with my strength and conditioning.”
Ask Buchanan about the potential drawbacks of not attending the traditional UCI BMX Supercross World Cup events in preparation for the world championships, and you’ll be met with a rider confident that any risk in her preparation was worth it, especially the year after an Olympics.
“I know my body and what works, and I think a lot of athletes on the world cup scene are a bit younger. But as someone older, and at age 26 something of a veteran, I don’t think it will be a huge advantage,” she said.
“I have had to experiment with things, what works and what doesn’t. The year following an Olympics is the one to do that.
“Rock Hill is also a track we have all raced on a lot before. I have done my research, watched the other girls racing and kept an eye on who is and isn’t going fast.”
Helping Dean and Buchanan spearhead the Aussie team are two-time Olympian Lauren Reynolds, 2016 Olympic debutant Bodi Turner and 2017 men’s national champion Kai Sakakibara. All three riders have shown flashes of hot form so far in the world cup series, with Western Australia’s Reynolds the standout with a third place in round two in Belgium.
Within the large Aussie contingent are riders as young as seven, defending world champions, age-group world finalists and even grandparents. All will don their helmets and a take a healthy dose of adrenaline as they charge down the start hill intent on claiming their own slice of glory on the world stage.
The 2017 BMX World Championships will take place in Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA from July 25-29.
Cruisers classes (larger frames to accommodate 24-inch wheels, opposed to the favoured 20-inch wheel used in Olympic competition) will take centre stage on the opening day of the event, while the ensuing three days will see the challenge class riders battle for victory.
Saturday July 29 will see the world’s elite fight for the top step of the podium.
Details of when and where to watch will be updated regularly on the BMX Australia website, and social media channels.