Aussie BMX champs hope Tokyo Olympics will bring them full circle

Aussie BMX champs hope Tokyo Olympics will bring them full circle

SBS World News Radio: Kai and Saya Sakakibara are committed to winning gold for Australia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Elite sporting brother / sister teams are a rarity in most sports, but Kai and Saya Sakakibura are right at the top of theirs.

Kai is Australia's number one-ranked senior rider, while Saya has no less than five junior world titles to her name.

Despite not reaching the men's final in July's World Championships in the United States, 22 year-old Kai says he's more than happy with the year he's had, which included becoming the national champion.

"I've smashed it this year so I'm really happy with where I am at the moment. And if I can continue to steadily improve I'm really liking my chances for 2020."

In 2020, they're both aiming to pull off Olympic gold medal wins in their chosen sport.

They discoved the sport in Japan after visa issues saw their parents leave their Gold Coast home and head to Japan, where there mother was born.

For Saya, who scored a second-placed finish at the World Championships, her Japanse roots are important.

"I have an Australian accent and I can still communicate with my friends in Japan and I still carry on some Japanese values as well so, yeah... It's a pretty complicated identity that I have but it's something that I love."

She's taking her final secondary school exams later this year, but it's a career in BMX the 18 year-old is aiming for.

She shares that goal with Kai.

Because he's three years older, Kai remembers more of their time in Japan.

"The six years that I spent in Japan just shaped so much of my values and cultural values. Things like taking my shoes off inside the house, we still do that to this day. You know, respect and being polite to people as well, I think are really important Japanese values."

Their father is English and Kai has coined a short and effective description to spell out his family background for those that don't yet know: "Half English, half Japanese and full Australian."

Irrespective of how their competitive careers go in the future, the siblings are already planning to one day run their own BMX team, which they intend to call Team Sakakibara.

Saya says although they've got plenty more to prove on the track, running their own team is a goal they both share.

"Developing our brand and our name, and we're still developing ourselves as riders. So I think we've still got a little bit more work to do before we add a few more riders in and try to support them as well. But I think it's something we'd like to do in the future."

But for now, finishing her education before she enters into the senior ranks next year is the main goal.

And she's happy to keep making sacrifices to pursue her dreams.

"There have been multiple times where I've had to compromise my social life to concentrate on my training or my studies. And my parents have always been fond of me trying hard in school and trying hard in both BMX and my studies."

Sacrifices and dedication - both Saya and Kai have proved they're more than happy to make them in pursuit of their goals.

And should they reach the starting gates at the BMX track in Tokyo at the 2020 Olympics, their sporting journey would have come full circle.



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