Motor, mongrel and magic coming together for Buchanan
Published 15 August 2016 (AEDT)
BMX: Australia’s Caroline Buchanan has arrived in Rio as one the favourites for BMX gold.
But with memories of a disappointing 2012 Olympic campaign still fresh in her mind, the Canberran has revealed she has one simple plan.
"To be myself at this Olympic Games,” said Buchanan, when asked what lessons she had learned from her fifth place finish at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
“(In) London, I felt like the magnitude of Olympic Games, I needed to step up bigger than myself and perform bigger than myself because it was the Olympic Games.”
In the BMX final in London, reigning world champion Buchanan took to the start ramp after setting the fastest time in the seeding runs.
However, a disappointing jump from the gates saw her finish fifth behind eventual champion Mariana Pajon (COL).
“I'd come in as world champion, I'd set that fastest time on the track and I was ready,” said Buchanan, who revealed she had spent much of the past four years on her mental game in addition to her physical preparations.
"I just needed to be me and perform at the level I needed to perform.
“That's a big lesson.”
Since London, Buchanan has shone on the world stage including opening her Olympic year in spectacular fashion by winning world cup events in Argentina and Manchester.
In July, she claimed another time trial world crown and clinched bronze in the final at the 2016 world championships in July.
"Patience is the biggest thing this week for me,” she revealed.
"The butterflies, everything is just building towards this week.
"Obviously (it's) physical strength and building that machine, but the motor, the mongrel, the magic - everything is coming together.”
Australia is currently ranked world number one on the UCI nation’s rankings, with Buchanan and her teammates – London silver medallist Sam Willoughby, debutants Bodi Turner and Anthony Dean and 2012 Olympian Lauren Reynolds arriving direct from their San Diego training base on Friday.
The close-knit team has used their London experience to improve their performances and to help Turner and Dean on their debuts.
"We had some good group discussions leading into this Olympics, coming together, experienced what we learned in the London Olympics,” said Buchanan, who is confident the team is ready to perform.
“We have had a strong preparation, we have a strong squad.
"There are high hopes for the team, but we have the best support network around us.”
But before their first hit-out on the Olympic track on Monday, the quintet has enjoyed a few days living the buzz of Village life and reuniting with their Australian teammates.
"A few more sleeps until Christmas is kind of the feeling right now,” she explained.
"To step into that Olympic environment, feel the butterflies, feel the hair standing up on your arms and just preparing for what's to come ahead for us.
“To watch Anna our team captain perform and win a bronze medal for Australia - she's an inspiration.”
And if Buchanan needs any further motivation or support from the four-time Olympian – who became Australia’s most decorated cyclist after winning her sixth Olympic medal with bronze in the keirin – she won’t have far to go.
“To be rooming next to Anna Meares, well you couldn't ask for more support,” she said.
But even with all the hype, pressure and intensity that comes with an Olympic Games, it is amazing that Buchanan can still bring it back to basics.
"The track is awesome. Everyone's first look at the track, it's a little bit like Mario Carts on Nintendo,” she laughed.
"It's going back to the roots of where we grew up and that's a good reminder coming into this Olympic Games that we're just riding kids' bikes around a track and going out there and chasing our dreams.”
The three-day competition begins at the Deodoro Olympic Centre on Wednesday, 17 August.