Gavel / Determined Caroline pedals on to Rio

“The Olympic dream can disappear in a matter of seconds or it can live with you for a lifetime,” writes sport columnist TIM GAVEL

IF ever there were an example of the quintessential Canberra sportsperson, in my mind it would be Caroline Buchanan.

BMX star Caroline Buchanan… learnt a lot from the Olympic final in London.

BMX star Caroline Buchanan… learnt a lot from the Olympic final in London.

Born and bred in Canberra 25 years ago, schooled at Weston Creek, Merici and Erindale College, her family home in Duffy burned to the ground in the 2003 fires leaving the family with little more than a couple of bikes.

From this beginning, Caroline emerged as a five times world champion in BMX and mountain bikes.

The fact that she won her first mountain bike world title in 2009 at Stromlo Forest Park, a park established after the 2003 bushfires, simply adds depth to her personality.

At 17, Caroline was too young to compete in the Olympics in 2008. By 2012 she was the favourite to win the gold medal in London only to falter and miss out on a medal altogether.

It was heartbreaking, but given what she had been through in 2003 Caroline realised it wasn’t the end of the world. She says she has learnt a lot from the Olympic final in London and it has made her stronger ahead of Rio.

Speaking to her from her training base in California as she prepares for Rio, I gained the impression that she is as motivated to do well at these Olympics for herself as well as for the people of Canberra. This is especially for those who have supported her in the journey thus far.

While many athletes see coming to Canberra as a sacrifice for the betterment of their sporting careers, it is refreshing to speak to an athlete who believes she is making a sacrifice by training away from Canberra.

The BMX race at the Olympics, on a 450-metre track, is over in around 40 seconds with riders jockeying at high speed in a bid to cross the line first. The Olympic dream can disappear in a matter of seconds or it can live with you for a lifetime.

Caroline is confident it will be the latter.

WHILE we celebrate the selection of a number of Canberra athletes, it is worth taking time out to support those who have missed out.

Rebecca Wiasak is a world champion in the individual pursuit, yet failed to make the team for Rio. Her event is not in the Olympics and she couldn’t win a place in the team’s pursuit.

Anna Flanagan is another who is doing her best to remain upbeat despite missing selection in the Hockeyroos. She paid the price for failing to tell officials about a DUI charge. After being left out of the Champions Trophy team she found it hard to win back a place in the side for Rio.

Both Rebecca and Anna have vowed to fight their way back.

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