16 Mar 2020

Resilient Sarah Walker takes Olympic uncertainty one day at a time

2:32 pm on 16 March 2020

Olympic BMX hopeful Sarah Walker says the New Zealand BMX team are trying to get their heads around how they will be affected by the latest impacts of coronavirus on the sport.

Sarah Walker

Sarah Walker Photo: Photosport

Cycling's governing body plans to retroactively use 3 March as the cut-off point for Olympic qualification in mountain bike, and BMX Racing as the coronavirus pandemic continues to decimate the sporting calendar.

Road and track cycling have completed their qualification events, the last of which was the Berlin track world championships last month, but riders in the other disciplines had until 1 June to score enough UCI points.

There is one cross-country Mountain Bike World Cup 22-24 May in the Czech Republic - New Zealand has currently qualified one male rider.

The BMX Racing decision affects the double rounds in London, Papendal and Rock Hill plus the BMX world champs in Houston.

Houston, a key event for Olympic qualification, is still scheduled for 30-31 May.

Currently New Zealand qualifies just one female rider. The New Zealand BMX women are currently 7th on the Olympic National Rankings and would need to get to the top five to get two riders.

Olympic BMX hopeful Sarah Walker said the last few weeks had already been full of uncertainty.

"We've just been taking it day by day and just working on training hard still and seeing what happens.

"But this news from UCI we're just really going to get our head around what that actually means and figure out what the next plans are," Walker said.

She said it could potentially impact on three BMX riders trying to make the Olympics.

"Three girls have been trying to qualify two spots for Tokyo and the men are trying to qualify one spot so it's a lot of unknowns and a lot outside of our control so what's in our control is just going to training and working hard and then getting our heads around where everything's at."

Walker, who won silver at the 2012 London Olympics, has already dealt with a lot of adversity in her career.

Following her London triumph she had a series of serious crashes and broken bones.

In her last chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Walker crashed in practice at the World Champs.

Although this was a very different situation, Walker she said had a lot of resilience.

"This is a little bit different but I've just used the skills that I've gained from that injury adversity and applying it now and just focussing on one day at a time and doing the best that I can each day."

Overall Walker was pretty philosophical and said all they could do was keep working on getting faster.

"This is unusual times for anything including sport so I just want to make sure that I'm doing everything I can each day and at the moment it seems to be changing day by day so it's kind of just control the controllables really."

With the duration of the ongoing coronavirus crisis unknown, the UCI said basing qualification on 3 March standings was the fairest way to ensure integrity in the process.

"Maintaining the qualification periods initially planned (May 27 for mountain bike, June 1 for BMX Racing and June 7 for para-cycling) would have resulted in unfairness between nations," a UCI statement said.

"The UCI has therefore decided to propose to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and IPC to stop the procedure as of 3 March, in view of the fact that up until that date, no nation had been prevented from travelling to events."

- Reuters / RNZ