In 2012, Rotorua's Sarah Walker became a household name and inspiration to many as she won BMX silver at the London Olympics. That was a long seven years. She spoke to sports reporter David Beck about what keeps her going.
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When interviewing Sarah Walker about the last decade of her BMX career, you quickly realise it would take a lot to get her down. The famous, unwavering smile is not a false one.
While there have been dark times and doubts since the London Olympics in 2012, she finds joy in appreciating every moment and making the most of whatever the future holds.
"Having courage is one of my main priorities in the sport as well as having fun. If I have fun and I'm brave, I should continue to do well and keep pushing the boundaries of what I can do and what I'm capable of," she said.
In terms of qualification for the Tokyo Olympics this year, the Kiwi women's BMX team has been hard at work collecting qualification points. The more they earn as a whole, the more riders they can send.
"We're going pretty well, we've earned some good points but at the moment we're sitting on one spot for Tokyo. Up until September we had two spots but there were two World Cups at the end of the year that the three of us didn't all go to.
"You can miss a couple of races in that qualifying period, we won't know until May really. There are two World Cups in Australia in February, then World Cups in Manchester, Holland, South Carolina, then the World Champs in Houston. We've got lots of international racing to go to earn points."
She said the priority now was to train hard as a team over summer, although at the back of each rider's mind is also the fact that three riders will not fit into one or two spots.
"We've been tracking well and we've shown the potential to qualify two spots so we're excited about the possibility of that, we've never had that before.
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"The next part is Cycling New Zealand has a selection policy for who would actually go and it basically comes down to those World Cups and the World Champs. As a collective and New Zealand riders we want to score points to qualify two spots. As individuals, we're competing against each other to see who has the best results.
"It is a balance, it's New Zealand against the world. The more we work together the faster we can be but at the same time you know you're competing. I know if we push each other we'll all get faster and one of us will be the best at the end. Whoever goes will be really fast so that's exciting."
BMX is not a sport for the feint hearted and even after a decade of riding at the highest level, Walker said fear still found a way to creep in. However, it was the races in which she conquered those fears which were the most rewarding.
"I have to face fear every time I ride my bike but there are sometimes when the fear is higher. For example, at a World Cup in Europe earlier in the year, one of my friends got knocked out on the first jump and was unconscious for about a minute.
"I was on the top of the ramp in the next race waiting for her to be helped off the track before we could go and do that same jump she just crashed on. That is pretty challenging mentally because you want to know they are okay but you have to go and race.
"Overcoming those thoughts and fears is challenging but when you do it's rewarding. That's the weekend I made the final of the World Cup, so considering the situation it was a real win to overcome that mentally."
She said at 31 some may consider her past her peak but as long as she was enjoying herself and still had the desire to compete at the highest level she would continue to do so.
"I've managed to keep my body together relatively well this year but as long as I accept that [injury] is a possibility, then you move past it. I have to say 'yeah, I could get injured' but I'm going to still ride my bike and focus on what I can do and what I can control.
"For me, my personal view is; if I'm having fun, I'm enjoying it, I'm still really fast and I believe I can get faster - then why should I stop?"
"I'm very lucky that I'm on the IOC Athlete's Commission and in that I got to go to the Winter Olympics last year as an athlete rep. It was a reminder of how freaking cool it is to go to the Olympic Games - the environment, the people, just the whole thing is unlike anything else you could ever go to.
"That reinspired me and remotivated me to really want to be there as an athlete in Tokyo. I'm 31, which doesn't worry me at all, but I guess people have their stereotypes of what age you should probably stop doing it. For me, my personal view is; if I'm having fun, I'm enjoying it, I'm still really fast and I believe I can get faster - then why should I stop?"