Two years on from the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Buenos Aires 2018, Argentine BMX star Agustina Roth reflects on her time at the YOG, which saw her thrill the home crowds as she topped the podium with Iñaki Iriartes in the brand-new mixed BMX freestyle park event.
Some of the biggest cheers of the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 were reserved for Argentine BMX star Agustina Roth in the city’s pumping Urban Park venue, as she teamed with compatriot Iñaki Iriartes to win gold for the host nation in the brand-new mixed BMX freestyle park event.
Roth, then aged 17, scored 74 points in her second run to finish behind Lara Lessmann in the women’s final, while Iriartes edged Evan Brandes to top the men’s standings. The results left Roth and Iriartes tied with the German pairing of Lessmann and Brandes, with the two teams sharing the gold medal.
Since then, Roth has successfully stepped up to the senior stage, winning a BMX freestyle bronze medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, while also targeting a place at next year’s Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
This month is the two-year anniversary of Buenos Aires 2018. How do you reflect on your time at the YOG?
“To be honest, it’s made me a little nostalgic at the moment – I see lots of Instagram stories, photo memories, and it makes me a little sad that I’m not there anymore and that so much time has already passed since then. I know that I made the most of it while I was there because I had fun, but I was very, very focused on what I was there to do. I gave my all to be able to compete and I know that I did all I could, but today if I think back to the Games a little, I’m a little sad because they’re done now and in the past. Something that I can’t ever do again.”
What was your reaction when you first arrived at the YOG?
“I was proud – so proud to be there, to be able to reach the level that we needed to compete and to have it at home in Argentina. All of the fans screaming passionately, my family being there. If the Games took place in another location, my family wouldn’t have been able to attend, so it was very lucky for us that it was in Argentina. My mum, dad, and siblings paid for the journey to Buenos Aires and were able to watch me and accompany me throughout my journey, so it was very beautiful. Having the Games in BA, my home, brought a lot of pride to the state, and to live this beautiful experience has given me many fantastic memories.”
What are your favourite memories from the YOG, other than winning a medal?
“At the Opening Ceremony, which took place at the Obelisk, I was with all of my friends, singing the national anthem with so much pride – we were shouting as loud as possible. We were watching the Ceremony at the Obelisk and there were people cycling on top of it, which was crazy! If you see it and go by it every day, you think, ‘How is it possible that people are on top of it with bikes or other things?’ We were laughing so much. We were also doing a lot of exploring. One afternoon, we had a water fight with loads of people from different nations – Germans, Japanese, Colombians, Brazilians – it was so much fun and we laughed a lot. Obviously, winning a medal was a really beautiful experience – it was something I had been preparing for non-stop for a year. Then, the Closing Ceremony was really sad – I cried a lot, but the party was lots of fun. In the Olympic Village with other athletes, we played lots of different games, we talked, we supported each other; these were the most beautiful experiences I had there.”
How did it feel to win the gold medal?
“Receiving the medal was beautiful – I was preparing and waiting for a whole year to wear it around my neck, so the moment I had it, it was pure joy. Singing the national anthem atop the podium was a very proud moment for me, and to share it with the German athletes was beautiful. Sharing something like that is special, especially as they deserved it just as much as us. We received our medals with huge smiles and with pride in what we had achieved.”
How has your career developed since the YOG?
“The truth is that Buenos Aires 2018 was the beginning of a long journey that I keep fighting for. After the Games, I took part in a host of different competitions – the World Cup, the Pan-American Games Lima 2019 and, of course, trying to qualify for Tokyo 2020, which is very different. But we keep fighting for it and see where the road takes us. Buenos Aires 2018 really kicked things off and we don’t know where we’ll end up, but it started something.”
What are your goals for the future?
“At the moment, I’m definitely focusing on qualifying for the Olympic Games – whether that’s for Tokyo or Paris I don’t know, but I’m very motivated to reach the Games. Then, I want to continue to work to reach that level, to have fantastic experiences and to continue travelling around the world with my bike, because that’s what I love. And finally, to continue to grow as a person while cycling – to learn more, it’s a huge experience for me and growing as a person is what’s most important.”
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Gracias a los chicos de @nebulosa.11 por conectarnos con @i.v.a.n.h.e.r.n.a.n.d.e.z y toda su familia y equipo @hachet.ok @_lado.b_ que pusieron toda la onda en ayudarnos y en pocos dias poder usar nuestras camisetas de la selección Argentina super comodas Gracias @ikibmx por estar pendientes de las remeras
Has it been a dream for you to compete in the Olympic Games?
“The truth is that when I was 13 and just starting to cycle, I wasn’t thinking about the Olympic Games at all. My sport wasn’t even part of the Games, so I wasn’t thinking about reaching the YOG, much less because I’m from a very small city that I didn’t leave very often; I didn’t travel or anything. Fortunately for me, I took part in a national competition and afterwards the technical director called me to call me up for national selection for Argentina. From there, I started to travel more and then the YOG was a beautiful experience.”
What does it mean to have BMX freestyle in the Olympic Games?
“When it was announced that freestyle BMX was going to be an Olympic sport, it was a beautiful moment. It was a really proud moment too and fantastic for me that we will have the opportunity to take part in the Olympic Games and to show that our sport is really fun and entertaining to watch.”
What do you think BMX freestyle can bring to the Games?
“It offers something completely new. To see people now recognising the sport is beautiful to see. There is a lot of excitement in our sport. There were a lot of people in the Urban Park [at the YOG] and they were surprised because there are so few people who really know what the sport is like – especially in Argentina. It’s not broadcast much at all here, so very few people know what the sport even is! After the Games, there are more and more people who know about the sport and for those who didn’t go to see the event live, they could see it on the television. Today, things are different – BMX is broadcast much more often, which really helps support us and the sport, which is brilliant.”
Do you think your experiences at the YOG will help you in Tokyo or Paris?
“I think so. The main thing is that it will be my first Olympic Games – I want to learn a lot, I want to experience everything, and obviously I’d like to get a medal, but first, I want to have a good time. That’s what I think is important; doing what I know to the best of my ability and, of course, it would be brilliant to be able to bring a medal home, but I know it will be very complicated because the other athletes are at a very high level, but it’s good to dream. Of course, the medal would be nice, but I prefer the experience now and to have fun with my friends and to have the experience of being at an Olympic Games with the best athletes in the world.”