Saya Sakakibara of Australia and Daleny Vaughn of USA compete in the Women's Elite quarter final during the 2024 UCI BMX Racing World Cup on February 11, 2024 in Rotorua, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Amid the euphoria of her eighth UCI BMX World Cup triumph over the weekend, Saya Sakakibara (Southlake-Illawarra BMX/New South Wales Institute of Sport and pictured above) conceded she is being pushed by her inner voice of treason.

Sakakibara sizzled on the track at Rotorua in New Zealand to win two gold medals, however, she needed to stave off a serious challenge in the final by British World Champion Bethany Shriever who pushed her all the way.

The 24 year old was delighted by the result, telling media she was aware this season would present many challenges.

“It was going to be really disappointing if I just didn’t live up to that standard that I kind of put myself in,” said Sakakibara. “But it was really tough racing out there. I didn’t do a good start, I hit the gate, but I knew I had a really good first straight, so I was able to get that lead.

“I could feel Bethamy coming, and I literally had no legs down the home straight but I was able to hold it off . . . that’s what you need.”

Sakakibara said while her run of success at the World Cups felt “surreal” she conceded negative thoughts still manage to find their way to the surface before a race,

“Those little negative thoughts do come in and tell you you’re not good enough, you’re not going to be able to do it, and you’re going to crash and all that kind of stuff . . . those thoughts just never go away. I think after every win I’m getting better and better with managing them and redirecting my thoughts and focusing my own process.

“I feel like every time I’m on the gate I’m just learning; feel like I haven’t sorted anything out yet and every win is like almost a surprise.”

While Sakakibara brought home two gold medals ahead of this weekend’s World Cup in Brisbane, fellow NSWIS scholarship athlete Oli Moran took silver after showing podium speed all weekend.

NSWIS was also represented at Rotorua by scholarship athletes, Jack DavisNoah Elton, and Sienna Pal.

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