The sport of BMX has been dealt a huge blow with confirmation that Cycling New Zealand has cut the sport’s High Performance programme, meaning athletes will now have to apply for individual campaign funding.
Perhaps most impacted by the change is 2012 Olympic silver-medallist Sarah Walker.
After a successful stint in track cycling, Walker’s returned to the sport amidst big changes.
She’s had to apply for funding for four international events, including the world champs, and the money will be performance based.
It will just be little steps throughout the year, and after world champs they’ll re-evaluate and see what happens,” said the 28-year-old.
“Every single race will have that little bit more pressure on it because my whole year plan relies on each of those results.”
The end of the BMX High Performance programme is a result of Cycling New Zealand’s half a million dollar funding cut.
CEO Andrew Matheson says if the riders can get the results he’ll be happy to go back to High Performance Sport NZ.
“We can only invest where we’re going to get genuine results, thats the nature of investment within sport, “said Matheson.
“I think probably what we are asking the riders to do is really step up and own their campaigns.”
“I think we are giving them enough of a leg up this year to enable them to get results on the board that strengthen our case.”
As a carded athlete Walker will still have a support network around her at home, but not when she’s overseas.
“We don’t have a mechanic, don’t have a physio, which can be important sometimes, and we don’t have a coach,” Walker noted.
“There’ll be all this training back here and a lot of effort going into being prepared, but then to go into these races solo will be an interesting experience.”
Ultimately Walker says she’s concerned for the future of the sport.
“I feel like I can make this work, but it’s not so much about me and making it work, it’s about the other athletes. It affects the programme as a whole.
“I just want to make sure it doesn’t drop off completely.”
Walker says she feels a responsiblity to get the results needed to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Her first test will be at the Oceania Champs in Australia in just under three week’s time.