12 Aug Catch up with local Olympian Natalya Diehm
GN) Tell us how was it to compete in the Tokyo Olympics?
ND) How can I even put this into words…. it was amazing! To put on that green and gold and wear it with so much pride, just wow. Obviously, I’ve experienced competing in contests before and against the same women, but this one was like none other. Being around in the atmosphere of so many other athletes with so much joy and excitement really brought everyone’s emotions to a peak. In the BMX community we are all very close on and off the course so to make history with some of my best friends I’ll cherish forever. To make our first drop in on Saturday for the seeding order my energy skyrocketed as we just became all Olympians. To compete at the Olympics was more than a dream come true.
GN) How do you feel about the progression of Freestyle BMX now that it has been added to the Olympics?
ND) I am so proud of how far our sport has come. We have all fought so hard to showcase just how professional Freestyle BMX is. Majority of the public still didn’t quite understand what we do as BMX athletes. Now that it has been added to the Olympics I believe that we have inspired more kids to get on bikes and give it a go, boys and girls. I am so excited for the next generation to come through because they can see they have something to strive for and know that hard work pays off. The level of competition has grown massively especially over the past 12 months with having an extra year to prepare. There has been a new standard set for females after Charlotte Worthington’s first-place run and that’s so exciting to see because we will all have to push hard to progress if we want to keep up. BMX as a whole will continue to keep growing and I cannot wait for the future.
GN) We saw you injured your knee. What happened, and what happens next in terms of recovery?
ND) Yes, unfortunately, two weeks out of flying to Tokyo I ruptured my ACL for the fifth time and if you’re not sure what that is, it’s the ligament that holds your knee stable. I am very lucky to still have gone and it not put me out completely. Once we were there, we had four days of practice and my knee felt great (as good as it could). I was feeling pretty confident, so I didn’t let it play too much on my mind. Unfortunately, right when it mattered most, during my first run, 30 seconds in, it popped out on the backflip. I had a split two seconds to make my mind up on what I wanted to do…. either give up and call it or push through an extra 30 seconds of pain and see if it’ll be enough which is what I did. In terms of recovery because I’ve had four operations on it before it’ll take two surgeries to fix and with them being four months apart which makes the recovery extra-long this time.
GN) Once you have recovered from your knee injury what will be next for you in terms of competing? Is this something you’re thinking about?
ND) This is definitely a tough one and I’m still deciding what I want to do. I feel absolutely devastated at the thought of not being able to ride or compete again especially with the next games being so close it was a goal to make it to Paris as well. Either way, I will still be involved in the sport because it’s a passion that will never go away. I’m going to take this recovery one day at a time and if I feel confident enough then I will absolutely give riding another go. Never give up on your dreams or what you’re passionate about.
GN) Is there anyone you would like to thank or mention?
ND) I would never have gotten this far without the major support from my family. They have been through this whole experience with me and I wish I could have shared the Olympics with them. Also, a massive thank you to the whole of the Gladstone community. I never realised how much support I had backing me until now, everyone has been incredible and has shown so much love. Thank you!
GN) Lastly, what would you like to say to other young girls that love Freestyle BMX? I’m sure there are lots of local athletes that have their eyes on Brisbane 2032.
ND) Stay true to you and what you believe in! The Olympics have opened so many new opportunities for Freestyle BMX, that if you want it bad enough and are willing to work for it, you will achieve your goals. Make sure you’re always having fun and never put too much pressure on yourself, that is key. If there are young athletes or girls who are riding or what to try Freestyle BMX and need advice, my inbox is always open.