Six BMX and Mountain Bike athletes have been selected for the Australian Olympic Team, including NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) athlete Saya Sakakibara.

BMX racer Lauren Reynolds and Mountain Bike Cross Country rider Rebecca Henderson will join Anna Meares as the only female Australian cyclists to compete at four Olympics.

Tokyo Olympian Sakakibara and Olympic debutant Izaac Kennedy complete the BMX racing team, while reigning Olympic champion Logan Martin and Tokyo Olympic top-five finisher Natalya Diehm return for their second Games in BMX Freestyle.

The team will enter Paris with world class results to their name. Sakakibara and Kennedy enter as the current BMX Racing World Cup 2024 champions, Martin is the defending Tokyo Olympic champion and 2023 World Championship silver medallist, while Diehm finished the Olympic Qualifier Series sixth overall to secure her place in Paris.

Reynolds is currently one of only 10 BMX riders worldwide, female or male, who have contested three Olympics. The 33-year-old, along with four riders from other nations named to compete in Paris, will become the first BMX racers to ever contest four Games.

The six athletes announced today join the 19 track and road cyclists announced last week to complete the Australian Cycling Team for Paris 2024.

Deputy Chef de Mission Ken Wallace announced the team at the AusCycling Indoor BMX Training Facility on the Gold Coast, where Martin and Diehm are finishing their domestic preparations.

“I’m thrilled to announce the BMX and Mountain Bike riders who will represent Australia in Paris,” he said.

“Each of these riders has a fantastic story on their journey to Paris. Lauren and Rebecca join a true Australian great in our Chef de Mission Anna Meares as the only Australian women to ride at four Games.

“Izaac and Saya enter as World Cup champions and will be out to show their impressive form in Paris. Logan made his own history as the first BMX Freestyle Olympic champion in Tokyo and Natalya has fought her way back through injury to qualify as one of the top 6 riders in the Olympic Qualifying Series.

“Congratulations to each of you, the team at AusCycling, your coaches, families, friends and supporters who are celebrating with you today.”

Sakakibara has had an incredible 2023/24 season, notching four gold and two silver from the six BMX Racing World Cup events.

“I am overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude,” the 24-year-old said. “I am grateful for the people around me, who helped me pick up the pieces from the last Games and carry onto this one.

“To be given a second opportunity to compete at an Olympic Games is a truly gratifying. Getting to this point is already a big achievement but the job isn’t done yet!

“With a month to go, I am in the south of France – I had some time riding on the Olympic Track, and it’s head down, going through the last phase of training to be at peak condition for August. I feel confident in my team and what we are doing, I’m excited and nervous!”

Reigning Olympic champion Logan Martin was thankful for the people who helped him chase his second Olympic appearance.

“I’m very excited to feel the atmosphere of the Olympic Village again and put on my best performance in Paris,” he said.

“Massive thank you to my amazing wife, my mum and parents in law for holding down the fort while I’ve had to travel and compete to qualify for Paris 2024! Thanks to my beautiful children, Noah and Luna for keeping me grounded.

“All of the AusCycling staff and QAS staff for the support to keep everything moving at the training facility and whilst travelling and to all the people that support me and cheer for me, thank you!!

“There is still a couple of weeks left until I fly out and do a week in Belgium to get adjusted to the time zone and warmer weather. So, I will be doing the work on and off bike until I fly out – I will celebrate making it to another Olympics, after the Olympics! I plan to have an ice cream and some macaroons with my children and wife in Paris when my event is done.”

Making her fourth Olympic appearance, Henderson will move into equal third on the all-time women’s mountain bike list, behind only five-time Olympians Gunn Rita Dahle-Flesjå of Norway and Sabine Spitz of Germany.

“My first Olympic Games was London 2012 and I have been so fortunate to have amazing support all along this journey,” Henderson said. “People come and go playing different roles at different times in your life and I have always been surrounded by wonderful and positive people who see the best in me. I am always grateful to anyone who has supported me, opened opportunities and believed in me at any moment during my career. Each stage is significant and important and has helped shape who I am today.

“I am on the way to Paris without any expectations, only the goal is to give a performance I can be proud of within myself. So far this season I’ve fallen short of my goals, faced more challenges than ever and have not delivered.  That’s the reality of sport at this level, but so is our determination to work diligently, consistently and believe in ourselves and our path.”

“Each race is a new opportunity and there is no bigger opportunity than the Olympic Games. I will prepare at altitude in Spain with the support of my team and we will give everything to be in the best shape possible and enjoy sharing the preparation and execution of this special event.”

CEO Marne Fechner said she was excited to share in the announcement of the six riders that will compete across the BMX and mountain bike disciplines for Australia at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“Logan Martin captured Australia’s imagination with a stunning gold medal at Tokyo 2020 in BMX Freestyle, and I’m sure every Australian will be right behind him when he goes for gold again at the Place de la Concorde in Paris,” she said. “Natalya Diehm also becomes a dual Olympian and her story is equally inspirational, having overcome a fifth knee reconstruction to compete at these Games.

“Aussie fans should be excited about our BMX Racing team. World Cup winner Izaac Kennedy makes his Olympic debut, while another World Cup winner Saya Sakakibara will be a hot medal prospect at her second Olympic Games. Izaac and Saya will be joined by four-time Olympian Lauren Reynolds, who becomes one of just five athletes in history to compete in BMX Racing at four Olympics.

“Today’s announcement also celebrates another four-time Olympian, Rebecca Henderson, who will again represent Australia in the mountain bike XCO discipline. In such a demanding format, Bec’s experience and determination should give every Australian confidence that she can put together an Olympic-sized effort on the Elancourt Hill circuit.

“I’m sure the entire cycling community joins me in congratulating Logan, Natalya, Izaac, Saya, Lauren and Bec on their selection. Not only are they amazing athletes, but they are also great ambassadors for the sport and their country.  We wish all 25 cyclists the best of luck as they set out to realise their Olympic dreams.”

Article courtesy of the AOC

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