Ex­treme queens

You need strength, skill and nerves of steel to smash it in these sports. Meet the ris­ing stars who have it all

Women's Health Australia - - DECEMBER - By Penny Car­roll

Meet three trail­blaz­ers with a need for speed rock­ing the sport world

THE NEXT BIG THING: SAYA SAKAKIBARA, 19 BMX

If you’re af­ter an ac­tion-packed sport, it’s hard to beat BMX, where rid­ers fly over jumps and tight bends in a sprint to the fin­ish line. “The race is only 30-40 sec­onds long and if you look away for even a sec­ond you miss a big chunk of ac­tion!” says Sakakibara, a Red Bull ath­lete, world No.2 and one to watch ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Sum­mer Olympics. Spec­tac­u­lar spills are com­mon, but for this ban­dit the thrills are worth the risk. “What isn’t there to love about trav­el­ling 40-50km/h, get­ting some air un­der­neath your wheels and throw­ing in some sweet style?” she says with a laugh. Build­ing leg power, core and up­per-body strength and en­durance en­sures the rider fre­quently podium fin­ishes, but she ex­plains it’s men­tal mus­cle that re­ally counts. “I think to suc­ceed in BMX, men­tal game largely comes into play. When I’m on top of the start hill, I don’t look at who I’m rac­ing, I close my eyes and imag­ine my­self rid­ing a per­fect lap around the track. This helps me avoid stress­ing over the un­con­trol­lable fac­tors of a BMX race.”

You should know... These cy­clists pick-up se­ri­ous speed. “At an Olympic stan­dard track, we reach up to 60km/h in 2.5 sec­onds from a dead-stop start,” Sakakibara says.

Make your move: Scoot straight over to bmx­aus­tralia.com.au to find your lo­cal club’s next free Ride in 2 BMX event. These in­tro days are ideal for all ages and will teach you ba­sic BMX skills from an ac­cred­ited coach.

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