She is a BMX world champion, mountain bike world champion and dual Olympic athlete, but Caroline Buchanan would never let the titles and awards go to her head.
Breaking through glass ceilings since she was little, driving on a dirt road among the boys, the limitations women face in male-dominated sports are nothing new to Caroline. But she is determined to be a role model and mentor to as many young girls as possible.
As a nine-year-old, Caroline clearly remembers turning to her father after competing in the Paris World Champions and saying, “I want to be a professional BMX racer”. The typical male sport had not yet reached the Olympics, and women were hardly seen flying around on the berms.
When she spent her childhood at the Canberra BMX Club, Caroline trained hard on the track to eventually become one of the most recognizable Australian BMX racers of her time. The Olympian credits her father for making her dreams come true behind the scenes, finding her a media connection, reserving sponsorships and building her international profile.
For today’s young women who dream of fighting it out in the ground, Caroline is not a far out, immovable figure; she’s right on the sidelines cheering on them as they drive down the last stretch.
“For me, it’s more about the legacy I leave behind. This is important because it was a big void in my career, so I want to be visible and accommodating to young girls. I want to build a bridge and bring their dreams closer to them, ”she smiles.
This legacy began in 2014, when Caroline formed her Ign! Te female mentoring program that gave young girls a woman they can look up to in a BMX world dominated by men.
“It started about nine years ago, and really was the reason why I wanted to start something to give back. I did not know it would end all these years later with 14 girls and funds worth over $ 100,000. , ”Says Caroline proudly.
“There is so much limitation in support for women in male-dominated sports, so this little sponsorship grew into more about how far my mentoring scheme and a small financial investment can directly affect these girls and change their world.”
To receive a scholarship, the budding BMX masters present their projects to her and explain what they want to spend the $ 4,000 on. An extra $ 1,000 is then awarded as a content budget, and with Caroline’s guidance, they’ll learn how to build their social media profiles to make them “the whole package”.
“I just want to be the extra person in their lives. For me, I had Layne Beachley, and I could pick up the phone at any time and call her. More importantly, she believed in me, and words can last a lifetime. Says Caroline.
“The girls know they can send me a little video of how they train or call me if they need a pep talk before a final. It is really crucial for them that they know they can reach the top and I am here to help them every step of the way. ”
Growing up in Canberra, Caroline made sure to give back to ambitious local girls by awarding a few of the scholarships in ACT.
Knowing the names of each girl, Caroline’s sheer admiration and devotion for her riders is evident.
“The two Canberra girls we gave scholarships to are Sarah and Nicki. Nicki needed coaching support and an airbag to develop his tricks safely. She is a real standout – she has worked so hard on her craft, and her goal is to get to the next Olympics, “whispers Caroline.
“She’s definitely the next wave of talent right now, and all she really needed were some key pieces to her puzzle through the scholarship.”
Caroline has dominated the BMX scene throughout her career, but one thing she actively promotes for the girls she mentors is not putting all your eggs in one basket; be diverse because that is what will set you apart.
“Out of the 15 girls we’ve had so far, Dezere Barnes has really inspired me because not only has she won a BMX world title, but she’s also become an ambassador for Puma and gone to the Commonwealth Games for weightlifting. She’s just so much diversity in her career, ”says Caroline.
In her decades of flagging for women in action sports, Caroline has seen the narrative of female athletes change drastically.
“It’s better to be a woman in male – dominated action sports now than ever before. There is an advantage in brands and recognitions, and there is such a viable future in any action sport now,” she says.
“BMX was the first action sport to take part in the Olympics, and now there are five – it definitely changes some of the perceptions.”
Caroline’s Scholarship is open to girls ages 13 to 19 and is available to BMX, Motocross and Mountain Bike athletes.
“The local Canberra company, Rubik3, has been behind the last three years of the scholarship and I’m really proud this year to have provided merchandise and other revenue to help ensure this continues,” says Caroline.
“My best advice to any young girl in the BMX world is that whoever you are inspired by, whether it’s Sally Fitzgibbons or Jess Fox, follow them – see what they do, how they do it, what they do” re eating, how they communicate.
“What we absorb is so important, and it’s a big part of your career. Get out there, be a consistent and unique athlete, and build your own brand, no matter what you do.”
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