The BMX Freestyle competition and Hannah Roberts are both making their debut on the Olympic stage. However, the journey for the first-timer has not been an easy one.
The 19-year-old South Bend, Indiana native who grew up in Buchanan, Michigan experienced a difficult time after qualifying for the Tokyo Games last year.
“To be the first announced and announced so early it was like all my hard work paid off and I was honored so it was cool,” Roberts said in an interview with NBC back in March 2020.
Through years of training and multiple injuries, Roberts never gave up. She suffered a broken back, a broken shoulder, two broken ankles and bruised her kidneys.
When the pandemic hit, Roberts faced her most difficult struggle yet.
“I just couldn’t keep doing it. I lost motivation for a bit. I just had to change something cause it was hard,” she said.
With the help of her friends, Roberts was able to regain the motivation she used to have.
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“Without them, I’d probably still be sad. It was a great year, life happens and you just have to move forward,” said Roberts.
Roberts began competing when she was 12 years old. In 2017, at the age of 17, she became the first-ever BMX Freestyle World Champion at the inaugural World Championships in China.
This year, Roberts earned her third world title in the women’s BMX park World Championship in France.
“I knew she was the greatest female way back when, it’s really neat to see it go to the Olympics. It’s the biggest show on the planet!” Roberts' dad, Rick Roberts, said.
Without the presence of her family in Tokyo, Roberts looks forward to qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“It’s sad, it’s hard that they can’t be there," Roberts said. "I’m hoping this isn’t my only Olympics. I told my parents, 'I’m going to work twice as hard so the next time there’s an Olympics you guys can be there.' It just gives me more motivation to continue."