BMX star Saya Sakakibara targets Olympic gold with brother in heart

Aussie BMX star Saya Sakakibara is back in Queensland and on track for another Olympics appearance.

Aussie BMX star Saya Sakakibara is back in Queensland and on track for another Olympics appearance. Photo: Getty

Reigning World Cup BMX champion Saya Sakakibara is targeting a gold medal at the Paris Olympics with the support of her incredible older brother Kai a constant source of strength and inspiration.

Both were on course to represent Australia at the Tokyo Games when Kai suffered a horrific race injury that left him in a coma for eight weeks.

He has since made a remarkable recovery and is rock solid behind his sister.

Sakakibara, 24, will contest rounds three and four of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup in Brisbane on Saturday and Sunday in the women’s elite category.

She is on track for Paris after wins in Rotorua in rounds one and two earlier this month.

“My BMX is nothing without my brother,” she said.

“The way he has supported me in my journey has been the biggest thing. He had to give up on his dream to make the Olympic Games for BMX when BMX is everything to him. For him to now support me with no guilt or jealousy is the biggest thing.

“I am so glad he has that strength.”

It is not just Kai’s selflessness but his own strength that keeps Saya on track.

“He got me so far up until his accident and the way he has approached his rehab … it is incredible to see,” she said.

“Now he is into para-rowing and aiming to be at the Paralympics in 2026 in Los Angeles. The team he has built around himself … is so supportive of him. He is in the centre and it is just really incredible he can build that.”

Sakakibara said it would be “amazing” to win gold or to be on the podium at what will be her second Olympics.

“That is what I have been training for. Everyone has the goal of being an Olympian. Then to have the opportunity to go again, you always want to do better than what you did before,” she said.

“That medal is definitely in my horizon and I hope I can get there.”

Sakakibara said she had many different emotions while competing but had found one in particular that brought out her best.

“The calm emotion is the most powerful,” she said.

“If you think of every situation you could put yourself in, whether it is in BMX racing or a relationship, (being) calm is the most powerful emotion that can take you where you need to go.

“I have been focusing this year on bringing that sense of calmness and switching off between races. I know when it’s time I can switch on and get that hungry emotion or angry emotion or whatever I need to do.

“It seems like I have been able to unlock momentum from the back-end of last year and I have been able to carry it through.”


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