After a decade of international competition, two MTB world cups, and numerous podium finishes in international BMX contests, World Champion Mountain Bike Rider, Caroline Buchanan reveals some of her 10 year plan to sportstar.com CEO Megan James.
“Anne Caroline Chausson won gold in Beijing for BMX when in her early 30’s, and she is an incredible athlete.” Buchanan says, admitting that she is hopeful of similar longevity. “I think that it all depends on how well you look after your body, but I still want to be competing competitively on the international circuit at the age of 29, and that’s 10 years from now.”
She acknowledges that the journey will be challenging with the sports changing and many young guns rising to the top, but then admits to being attracted to overcoming challenges.
“It is always a great thing winning a race, but what is a great feeling is winning while overcoming odds and rising to the challenge and surprising myself with my abilities,” she says, her conviction evident as she talks of her more immediate plans.
“I was over the moon (with winning my second MTB World Cup). The feeling was just as great as winning the first one. I am definitely happy and proud of myself, but I am now focused on BMX and the 2012 London Olympics.”
“I have done one BMX World Cup, but was not content with my performance there. I always want to be better and I am looking to take my riding to the next level, whatever it takes, “she says.
“The Olympics are the ultimate goal for any athlete, being the pinnacle of sport. When BMX was announced as an Olympic Sport for Beijing 2008 I was ready and competitive enough to be part of the process but too young, as there was an age minimum of 19.
“I always love a challenge so competing at the highest international level in both BMX and Mountain Biking has been great for me to build my skills and knowledge. I enjoy both disciplines but have decided, after winning my 2nd MTB World title that I will focus my energy on BMX.
For Buchanan this means, and she knows it, being at the top of her game in 2011, at all of the BMX World Cup rounds.
“The Australian Team needs to qualify Australia as an eligible country and then, if ranked in the top 4 countries, 2 girls will be selected to go to London to represent Australia,” she says.
Pressing Buchanan on her preparations for the challenges ahead gets a refreshing perspective that is as straightforward as it is pragmatic. She provides a little retrospective that qualifies her enthusiasm for her sport and keenness to compete.
“I was a little tom boy when I was younger and followed in my older brother Sam’s footsteps. We both started racing in 1995 when I was 5 years old and I have never looked back. I was into everything and anything when it came to sport. I even got up to a half grade below black belt in Tae Kwon Do before I was 8,” she says. “But riding my bike was what I loved best.
“I work hard. I don’t know any different, and I have a great support network,” she says, modestly adding that rising to the elite level in some Australian sports, is not that difficult.
“There are simply not that many of us, Australians that is, competing. The test comes when we are competing against the rest of the world. It is actually a greater challenge to remain competitive with the rest of the world, with there being so little competition in Australia.
Buchanan says this challenge is compounded by being a woman in a non-mainstream sport, in which a lot of the sponsorships go to men.
“The most frustrating thing is not getting the recognition that elite athletes in other sports get, and not getting the recognition that men in BMX and mountain biking at the same level get. The mountain bike industry/market is European based and for BMX it is all about America so being Australian it is very hard to get the major $/product support,” she says. “I have the same travelling expenses and the same training expenses as the guys but the prize money is nowhere near the same and most sponsors want the guys.”
“My travel expenses alone are 5 times my income. Luckily I have very hard working and supportive parents. I have the best product sponsors and support in the world, but like most female athletes I need a $ sponsorship.”
“It would be impossible to work full time, train and be at the level I need to be at without competing overseas,” she says.
Buchanan raises revenue with coaching clinics and has done photo shoots for Cleo, Women’s Health and Alpha Sport Magazine. She says is keen to do sports modeling and is a strong advocate for healthy Aussie athletes promoting Australian products rather than overseas imports .