Walker there to win

Date published: July 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Comments

In 21 days the Olympics will be under way and the world’s eyes will be fixed on London.
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games is the biggest event on the sporting calendar this year and one of the most anticipated games ever.

The Olympics return to London for the first time since the 14th Olympiad in 1948 with an expected 204 countries represented across 26 sports. Flying the New Zealand flag will be Kawerau’s Sarah Walker and the Beacon’s Olympic build up continues with a profile on the BMX star.

BMX will make it second appearance at the games following a popular debut in Beijing in 2008. Kawerau rider Sarah Walker placed fourth in Beijing and returns to the Olympics in search of gold.
A shoulder dislocation in April threatened to end Walker’s Olympic dream but she bounced back to earn her spot in London. Beacon sports reporter Adyn Ogle spoke to Walker this week as she prepares for her campaign.

Beacon: How did the shoulder injury affect you mentally?
  “When it happened I thought maybe I wouldn’t go to the Olympics. Now the challenge is getting over the bigger jumps. I need to do that to be in the medals. I have visualised getting over them to get that feeling of doing it again.
“I try and take the emotion out of it. I visualise then go and do it. I don’t give myself time to think about it too much or let those thoughts get in. I am where I need to be and I am just taking that fear head on.
“I am excited about it, but more focused on today and tomorrow. I have plans about what I want to do, but I have some boxes I want to tick before then.”

How has the physical recovery from injury progressed?
“I have been training hard to bring my shoulder back to 100 per cent. I definitely feel stronger and a lot more confident in my shoulder now. I have done a few personal bests in the gym with my leg work – they are stronger than ever.
“I am going there to win and I am doing everything I can to make that happen. It really is a continuation of the goal I set before Beijing. I have been surprised at my strength and feel confident.”

Does this being your second Olympics help?
“I think it gives me a huge advantage. Of the 16 women competing only three others were at Beijing.
“In 2008, I was blown away by the whole thing. There are so many distractions and so much going on around you. You can’t be prepared for that. This time that won’t be as much of a factor so it will be easier to focus. The Olympics is a massive thing to be a part of.

How has the sport changed since Beijing?
“Some of the jumps are four metres bigger. They keep pushing us further and I guess it makes better television. The jumps are around 13 metres long but the bikes themselves haven’t changed. My bike is pretty much the same setup but just with a different paint job.”

What has driven you?
“The challenge for me is seeing how good I can get and finding what I can improve on. I am looking to see how much faster and stronger I can be. It is why I liked the sport to start with.
“When I was at Kawerau South School as a kid we studied the Atlanta Olympics. Danyon Loader won his first gold medal and was on the podium with the national anthem playing.
“It was that moment that I thought ‘I want to do that’. I kind of always knew I could get there, I just wasn’t sure which sport it would be.
“I was 15 when they announced that BMX would be included at the Olympics. I was getting to the age where I needed to make a decision and that settled it.

Is there anything outside of BMX you are looking forward to?
Mum, Dad and my brother will be there to watch so that will be great. I will also be watching the rowing with interest as my boyfriend [Ian Seymour] was in the New Zealand eights crew, but they missed out on getting to London.

If you are on the podium with a gold medal are you grinning or crying?
“I think about when I won the world champs and I was just grinning. But I have watched some of Sarah Ulmer’s medal footage and that gets me a bit. I don’t know. I will have to find out.

Source: Whakatane Beacon