Caroline Buchanan takes part in BMX Australia training camp in Bathurst

BONUS: Caroline Buchanan is relishing the chance to compete again after being sidelined for almost two years. Photo: ANYA WHITELAW
BONUS: Caroline Buchanan is relishing the chance to compete again after being sidelined for almost two years. Photo: ANYA WHITELAW

MAKING a comeback after a two-year absence against some of the globe's finest riders on one of the fastest tracks in Australia in an Olympic year at the Bathurst round of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup - sound intimidating?

Well rather than being nervous or intimidated at the prospect of doing that, Caroline Buchanan is looking forward to the challenge. She is feeling refreshed.

For the Australian BMX star, nothing she will face in Bathurst will be as daunting as what she has endured the past two years.

On New Year's Eve 2017, Buchanan was involved in an off-road accident just outside Cooma. It left her with a punctured heart wall lining, both her lungs were punctured and collapsed, she broken her nose, broke her sternum and had internal bleeding.

The recovery from those injuries has challenged Buchanan physically and mentally, but it means she has a new perspective on life and her chosen sport. It also means she is not daunted about what lies ahead in Bathurst.

"No, I'm not nervous, not after what I've put my body through the last couple of years with three sternum surgeries and 28 bolts and screws and everything through my chest, as well as all the internal damage I had with my lungs and puncturing my heart and everything like that," she said.

"Everything from just being back on two wheels and overcoming the injuries I had, everything's a bonus from here. It's sort of flipped how I used to be when racing when podiums were everything.

"Fortunately I've had some good support and sponsors who have stuck with me the last two years and I just feel more refreshed and ready to race."

The Bathurst round of the World Cup on February 8-9 will follow on the back of the series opener at Shepparton on February 1 and 2.

Those two World Cup events, as well as others which follow at Manchester, Papendal (The Netherlands) and Rock Hill (USA) are expected to draw quality fields given it is an Olympic year.

While having a new outlook, Buchanan would love to earn a spot on the Australian BMX team - there will likely be two women selected - which will compete at Tokyo.

It is a big ask given her time away from the sport and her current world ranking. But the 29-year-old has plenty of experience behind her - she competed at the London (fifth) and Rio (semi-finals) Games and is an eight-times world champion.

She's also had the chance to train on the Bathurst track, getting her introduction before Christmas and returning on the weekend for a two-day BMX Australia camp.

"There's a silver lining to everything. I've had to be patient I guess to have two years off, but to wait until the opportunity we've never had - to race at two World Cups in two weekends in Australia between Shepparton and Bathurst is great," she said.

"For me it's pretty crucial, I'm ranked outside the top 50 in the world at the moment. But I think what better way to come back than on home soil.

"The Bathurst track - it's long, big and really fun. It's not very often we get to jump what they call the men's side ... me, Saya [Sakakibara] and one of the Japanese girls were jumping the guys' side."

This story Buchanan's refreshed, not nervous ahead of Bathurst BMX World Cup event first appeared on Western Advocate.