In November, a new world class BMX facility opened on the Shore and there to try it out for the watching media and VIPs was Shore rider, Emma Pugh. Once she'd impressed onlookers with her 8-metre ramp riding and jumps at the new Albany track, Channel chatted to the multi-talented Westlake Girls High School student about her love for BMX, and how she is soon to represent New Zealand in another sport too...
Channel Magazine: What drew you to BMX initially?
Emma Pugh: My Dad actually used to ride when he was a kid. He thought it might be something I would enjoy, so he took me along to a club night and I loved it from the start.
CM: How long have you been involved?
EP: I started riding when I was seven and have been riding every year since then, so eight years.
CM: Do you have a role model in the sport?
EP: I think every BMX rider respects what Sarah Walker has achieved and done within the sport. She shows how resilient you need to be and how to get back up after a hard knock. She also always takes time, when she's at a race meet, to talk to and have pictures with anyone and is just a really kind person. Another person who inspires me is Caroline Buchanan. She is an amazing rider in both BMX and mountain biking. She's an Australian Olympian and works so hard to get where she is. She's an amazing person and one of my role models who helps inspire me to reach my goals.
CM: What’s the best all-time performance you have ever seen in the world of BMX?
EP: I don't really have a favourite race because there are so many good riders and I've seen so many amazing races that I can't single out any one.
CM: Have you ever sustained any injuries through the sport?
EP: Other than scrapes and bruises from small crashes, the worst injury I've ever had was when I was 10 and I broke my arm. I was beating my rival for the first time ever and, on the last straight, I looked back because she was getting close, and mistimed my pumping, hit the jump and went over the bars and landed on my arm.
CM: Please tell us what you think about the new North Harbour BMX facility in Albany?
EP: It is a very professional facility, I've never been to one like it before. The all-weather surface is cool, which means we can ride all year round. Having a proper carpark that we wont get stuck in adds to it. Even though it is fenced, the area still feels big and there's heaps of room around the track. Having access to an 8-metre ramp is amazing because it means, leading up to me entering junior elite, I have the ramp to practice on every day.
CM: How do you train?
EP: It depends what time of the season it is. I do an individual coaching session at the track with my coach, I do a special gates session to work on my gating technique, which is really important in BMX. I race at club night on Tuesday, which is good for whole track fitness and learning race lines. Then, leading up to a big event. I'll do additional training at home, like plyometrics and high intensity bike sprints.
CM: Can you describe the feeling you get when you nail a new jump or a record time?
EP: Whenever I achieve one of my goals like hitting a new jump or beating a gate time, I get this smile on my face that won't go away and a feeling inside that I can't describe, because it just feels so cool to do something for the first time.
CM: If you didn’t compete in this sport, which other sport would you like to excel at?
EP: I'm actually also doing quite well at basketball, on top of BMX. I'm traveling to Papua New Guinea in December with the New Zealand Under 15 team to play in the Oceania Championships. BMX actually helps me in basketball because the strength and fitness I gain from riding transfers over to basketball as well.
CM: Do you do much other cycling away from BMX?
EP: Not really, aside from going on the occasional ride around my neighbourhood, I usually stick to BMX.
CM: In five years time I hope to…
EP: Because of the nature of the sport, and what comes up in life, I hope I'm still riding competitively and achieving at the same levels I am now.