Giant leap toward 2020 for Gladstone BMX rider
BMX: Gladstone’s Natalya Diehm will wear the Australian green and gold for the first time this weekend as she embarks on her maiden World Championships campaign.
Diehm is at the 2019 UCI Urban World Championships in Chengdu, China, which also doubles as a key qualifying opportunity for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – where the sport will make its Olympic debut.
Diehm, 22, who started in the sport at the age of eight at Boyne Island skatepark, only launched her international career 12 months ago.
However, it was around that time when she considered giving the sport away after recovering from her fourth ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) operation.
She enters the 2019 World Championships off the back of victory in the 2019 Vans BMX Pro Cup, which featured events in the USA, Australia, Germany and Mexico.
“I’ve had some massive highs this year like winning Vans, but coming into Worlds there’s a different kind of pressure,” Diehm said.
“I’m just wanting to perform at my best and hope it all goes well.”
Only nine women will get to contest the Tokyo 2020 Games Freestyle competition comprised of two riders from the top ranked nation, one rider from each nation ranked second to fifth, with one rider automatically qualifying from host nation Japan.
With Australia currently ranked tenth, the World Championships are one of the last key events before the qualifying ends in May.
Diehm is hoping to secure as many qualifying points this weekend so Australia is one of the top two nations outside the top five.
“My goal is to try and qualify for a spot in the 2020 Olympics. All I can do is my best and hopefully that gets me a spot,” she said.
As Australia’s lone female competitor at the Worlds, Diehm understands the challenges for women competing in the fledgling discipline.
“It has been a struggle but when you love something so much you find a way to be able to continue,” she said.
Diehm will take part in qualifying from 10.30am today (Qld time), with finals on Sunday. She’ll compete in Heat 5. Visit https://tinyurl.com/yy5r2g2w for live results.