Updated June 22.
The Australian Olympic Committee has named a strong team of six riders who will compete in BMX and Mountain Bike events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The team is spearheaded by soon-to-be four-time Mountain Bike Olympian Daniel McConnell while Mountain Biker Rebecca McConnell will be competing in her third Games. Lauren Reynolds also becomes the first Australian BMX rider to make three Olympics.
Logan Martin and Natalya Diehm make history as the nation’s first Olympic BMX Freestylers when the discipline makes its Olympic Games debut in Tokyo. Rounding out the women’s BMX racing team is Japanese-born Australian rider Saya Sakakibara.
Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Committee Ian Chesterman welcomed the riders to the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo.
“Congratulations to all the riders selected today,” Mr Chesterman said.
“Today is a fantastic accomplishment not just for the riders but for Australian Cycling, their coaches, families, friends and supporters who have helped them achieve today’s selection.
“Dan, as a four-time Olympian, and Rebecca and Lauren, both off to their third Games, will all earn a special place in Australian Olympic history in Tokyo and their selection is a reflection of their incredible commitment, perseverance and talent over such a long period of time.
“BMX Freestyle makes its debut giving Logan and Natalya the opportunity to showcase their incredible courage and skill on the world’s biggest sporting stage and for Australians to see this exciting new sport.
“With Mountain Bike and BMX riders joining their track and road teammates, the cycling team for Tokyo will represent Australia with great distinction.”
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27-year-old Logan Martin, who claimed a World Championships win in Montpellier this month celebrated his official selection, stating a lifelong goal had been achieved.
“I’m extremely stoked to not only be selected on the Australian team for the Tokyo Olympic Games but also to be the first Australian ever to be going to the Olympics for Freestyle BMX, that’s massive!” Martin said.
“I set this goal four years ago, with 100% confidence I would make it and it’s finally coming to fruition.
“Becoming the World Champion for the second time is really something special. To do it just a month out from the Olympics was perfect for my selection onto the team. I knew this Worlds was a make or break event but I didn’t let that pressure get to me, I just wanted to show everyone the work I had been putting in throughout the past year and a half.
“My goal is to always do my best. I know my best will be a big contender for a gold medal so I always try to focus on that leading into events and it will be the same heading into Tokyo.”
21-year-old Sakakibara said it was a dream come true to make an Olympic squad in the country she was born in.
“To be honest, it feels so surreal. It’s been a dream since I was a little girl to go to the Olympics – to actually reach that goal is amazing,” Sakakibara said.
“The story doesn’t end here though – I’ve made my first Olympic team selection, but the journey starts here.
“My family have been true supporters for me. And they really believe that I could be in this position and that they really believe that I would be going to the Olympics this year. They’re just really thrilled to know and hear that it’s actually official, and it’s all happening.
“My biggest goal for the Games is to be at the start gate, and know that I’ve done absolutely everything that I can to get to where I am. So when I’m at that gate, all I have to do is just trust everything that I’ve done, and enjoy it.”
Australian Cycling Performance Director Simon Jones took the opportunity to declare his hopes for a strong Australian team.
“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all riders on their selection, and all riders who have been part of the process through to selection,” Jones said.
“I’m proud of the riders who will be representing Australia in Tokyo, and we are very excited to see how everyone in the team meets the challenge of what’s likely to be a unique Games experience.
“The selection process never gets easier and that’s because we have a strong and competitive team. Due to COVID, these athletes have been working for this selection for the past five years and there are a limited number of places on the team – we know Olympic selection means everything.”
On June 22, Rio Olympian Anthony Dean addition to the team was announced.
Dean hasn’t yet won an Olympic medal, but won bronze at the 2018 UCI BMX World Championships. He spoke to olympics.com.au about his selection.
“I am so excited for the opportunity,” he said.
“In 2016 I won every lap in the semi-finals but fell short in final with a DNF. I now have the opportunity to get my redemption from Rio.”
The Mountain Bike competition at Tokyo 2020 will run from July 26 – July 27 at Izu MTB Course. BMX Racing will begin on July 29 until July 30 and BMX Freestyle will take place from July 31 to August 1, both events to be held at Ariake Urban Sports Park.
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