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Hannah Roberts to Make Debut in First-Ever Olympic BMX Freestyle Event

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Lima 2019 Pan Am Games – Day 16
Lima 2019 Pan Am Games – Day 16
Getty Images

The BMX Freestyle competition and Hannah Roberts are both making their debut on the Olympic stage Friday night.

The 19-year-old South Bend, Indiana native who grew up in Buchanan, Michigan is set to compete in the women’s seeding for the new Olympic sport – but much like the course, her road here was not an easy one.

In the last year, Roberts went from the highs of being named an official Olympian to the lows of pandemic stress.

“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. 

But 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.

“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.”

For now, she’ll be making history as she begins her quest for the first-ever Olympic gold medal in her sport.

Freestyle BMX riders will be scored on execution and difficulty of their tricks. There will be a men’s and women’s race. 

HOW TO WATCH: The events start at 8:10 p.m. CT for the women’s race and can be watched on CNBC or streamed live here.