BMX: Sarah Walker takes a big jump

By Elliott Smith

Sarah Walker in hospital after surgery on her broken arm. Photo / Twitter
Sarah Walker in hospital after surgery on her broken arm. Photo / Twitter

A leap of faith yesterday morning may have been the breakthrough moment in BMX rider Sarah Walker's Olympics qualification bid.

The London silver medallist's biggest test yet since a double fracture in her arm eight weeks ago came not on the start line of a packed amphitheatre but in a ride around the North Shore BMX Club. With media and spectators on site keeping a watchful eye, Walker put in some impressive air time as she made her way around the course and allowed herself a smile afterwards.

Doubt can be an unwanted companion for BMX riders, and especially for one who has suffered her share of injuries in some big, and not so big, crashes.

The breakneck pace of the BMX world meant yesterday's ride was her last hit out on local soil before she aims to compete at a World Cup event next weekend in the Netherlands.

"To be able to do some jumps before heading away that challenged me mentally and physically ...

it's given me a huge confidence boost," the 27-year-old said. "Because my arm is still quite weak, it's a physical challenge as well. Jumping for the first time doing those bigger jumps, I was 80 per cent sure that I'd make it.

"That's something that I'm not used to, doubting the ability in my body. I just had to take a literal leap of faith."

It's almost unfathomable that the face of New Zealand BMX racing might not be on the start line in Rio, but she still has several hurdles to confront if she's to be granted her ticket to Rio.

Walker's latest trip to the hospital has mirrored her buildup for the London Olympics, when she had to qualify late through the world championships following a broken shoulder.

Competing next weekend in the Netherlands will help her accrue vital qualification points, but she'll still need a strong performance at the world championships later this month in Colombia to earn her place.

Sarah Walker, New Zealand's first BMX Olympian and silver medal winner. Photo / File
Sarah Walker, New Zealand's first BMX Olympian and silver medal winner. Photo / File

The two events will be split by a training block in Florida, which has the benefits of being just a flight away from the world championships and Rio.

"World champs, I have to be at and have to perform," she said.

"I'm really confident lining up at the start hill at the world champs I'll be in the best form so I'm really excited going overseas.

"There will be nerves, I'm not going to lie. There will be times when I'm really, really scared but I have a process that helps me through those fears and helps me be courageous and face them head on. I know if I can do that process, I'll be ready."

Walker realises there's no use taking things easy leading into Colombia as her body continues to recover.

"If I was to hold back and play it safe the whole time, I'd get to world champs where we have the last chance and I won't be ready. I'll probably take little risks each day. They'll be very calculated and it's just the way it has to be."

And she's aware of the potential downside of pushing herself, too.

"In a sport like BMX, sometimes that means you crash. And that's fine."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 07 Dec 2016 04:14:55 Processing Time: 1038ms