Caroline Buchanan is one of Australia's greatest gold medal hopes at the upcoming Rio Olympics who won't get wet doing their sport. Well, unless it's raining.
Caroline rides BMX bikes. Fast. The 26-year-old grew up in Canberra and has won six world titles over the years. The latest of those titles was in Colombia in May. So Caroline's not just in form, she's in form on South American soil. Look out, world.
There's so much to love about Caroline. Apart from being fit and active, she's one of those people with a real fire in those green eyes. Whether she's campaigning with government to build a BMX track in Canberra or offering scholarships to younger athletes, it's not just about the bike with Caroline.
Right now, it's all about Rio. The Huffington Post Australia caught up with Caroline this week at her U.S. training base to see how everything's trundling along.
Ant: Hi Caroline. Let's start with the ridiculous question we've been asking Rio-bound Aussie Olympians all year. Who would win a fight between a kangaroo and an emu?
Caroline: Well, I do know that the two animals on our coat of arms both can't walk backwards. We're a country moving forward! I'd say the kangaroo would win the fight, the Aussie boxing kangaroo. Maybe the emu would do some pecking but I think the kangaroo would have the final knockout for the win.
Ant: Excellent answer. Now I understand I'm talking to your at your training base near San Diego, California.
Caroline: Yeah I'm just on the couch.
Ant: Nice, any tasty couch snacks? Are you even allowed tasty couch snacks a couple of weeks out from the Olympics?
Caroline: I'm keeping the diet pretty lean right now and just eating a few acai berries. I eat them a lot. I blend them with frozen banana so it's like a healthy gelato with berries and things on top.
Ant: Yum. Actually I saw you posting something like that on social media the other day. Did you know that Acai berries are native to Brazil?
Caroline: Yeah, I guess I'm getting in the spirit early. I hope they have them in the Olympic village. The village in London had all kinds of yummy food.
Ant: I'm confident they will. So speaking of London, you finished fifth in the final there which was probably a little disappointing because you were already such a star of your sport. What's going to be different in Rio? I know your start let you down a bit in London.
Caroline: Yeah, leading into the London Olympics, if anything was going to let me down it was my start times and also my hill times [the time down the initial start ramp]. I'd been unbeaten by the clock [in time trial events] but if I had any weakness at that time it was the hill times.
Ant: The start is so crucial, isn't it. [The London start is below. Caroline is the one in yellow three from the right as you look up the hill.]
Caroline: One of the main parts of BMX is getting down the ramp. That puts you in a really good position to win. Once you hit the first jump the field spread out a bit. Going down the ramp is only nine pedals.
Ant: Wow, nine pedals to determine the likely outcome of your whole race? And you've had four long years to think about those nine pedals.
Caroline: Yep, I've been trying to shave off 0.02 of a second down the ramp. A lot of that has been working on my reaction time and the biomechanics required to deliver the first three pedals.
Ant: Wait, so now it's all down to just the first three pedals? Your sport is so precise!
Caroline: If you can get out well and stay out of trouble, you get what they call the "hole shot" into the first corner.
Ant: OK, so apart from the physical and technical work, I believe you've worked strongly on your mind too. Tell us a bit about that.
Caroline: I've had mentors like [surfing champ] Layne Beachley and [marathon great] Robert de Castella and I've been working with psychologists at the AIS. A lot of it has been a personal journey and finding the balance of what works for me. BMX is such an aggressive fast action-packed adrenaline sport. The challenge for me has always been to find that level of mongrel and aggression and deliver when it matters.
Ant: So how do you do that?
Caroline: For me it's about daily meditation and mindfulness, about listening to podcasts and really bringing myself down to a calm state. Then on the way to the start gate I do breathing exercises.
Ant: I love it. You get calm to get aggro. Works for me.
Caroline: BMX is actually the only action sport of the summer Olympic Games. You might think we'd all be amped up and we are, but for me, I've found that I like to be in a calm mental state. I like to zone in and forget there are 10,000 people in the crowd and the whole world is watching and everything will be over in in 40 seconds.
Ant: Subdue the mongrel, then unleash it!
Caroline: You've got to be able to control your mongrel. We back up a lot in our races. There are four rounds and come the final, you still have to have that mental edge to be in the moment and focused. That's where some of my daily mindfulness techniques and habits come in.
Ant: Any particular one you can share with us?
Caroline: No phone before breakfast. It's one of the simple daily disciplines that everyone can benefit from, not only athletes. There are so many distractions in the world now. In London I was over-stimulated, which can happen to a first time Olympian.
Ant: Definitely going to try the no phones before brekky tip. OK, couple of quickies before we let you go. I was looking at some of your posts on social media recently. You're always in some exotic location or riding a Harley or something. I put it to you that you have a ridiculously cool life.
Caroline: Ha! I definitely like to live life. I try to keep every day and I ride my bike so much better when I can have fun.
Ant: And the hair. What colour is that exactly?
Caroline: It's sort of grey but I believe it's called "silver lining"
Ant: Well we hope every cloud in Rio has a gold lining, Caroline. Thanks for talking to the Huffington Post Australia and we really look forward to watching you race in Rio.
Caroline: Thanks Ant.
The BMX final is on Friday August 19 at 3 pm, Rio time. That's 4 am AEST on Saturday the 20th here. Set your alarms now. And that's an order.Suggest a correction