Meet the brother and sister powering to BMX gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics


The world’s best BMX riders will are set to compete for Olympic glory at next year's Tokyo games. Australia’s gearing up to send two of our finest - who say their sibling rivalry keeps them motivated.

For brother and sister BMX riders Kai and Saya Sakakibara, returning to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics will be a homecoming of sorts.

Born on the Gold Coast to a Japanese mother and English father, the pair spent six years growing up in the Japanese capital.

By the time Kai and Saya returned to Australia they were ten and seven years old respectively. Both came back speaking fluent Japanese and for a short time, found adjusting back to Australian life difficult.

SBS World News

"I had to learn English from scratch" said Saya.

The Feed first met Kai and Saya back in 2017.

"I remember being a kid, anything was a race," Kai said.

Eventually, that competitive streak found an outlet: his kindergarten was next to a BMX track.

"I just loved it," he told The Feed.

"It wasn't long before my parents bought me my first proper BMX bike and I've just been riding ever since."

Saya credits her brother Kai, now 23, for her interest in the sport.

"I was following him around everywhere, copying everything. So with BMX too."

SBS News caught up with the family, to see how their campaign for Olympic qualification is going.

Saya, now 20, has been on the professional circuit for two years and is ranked 7th in the world. She's a four times World Champion, and five times Australian Champion (and counting).

Kai is ranked 10th in world in the elite men category.

They may compete on different circuits, but Saya says it is great to be able to achieve such good results alongside her brother.

Doing this together as a family just makes this ten times more special.

The pair spent four months this year away from their parents, competing and training in Europe.

Dad Martin says they're getting used to being separated from their children for increasingly longer periods as they close in on their Olympic dream.

"It used to be two weeks, then a month, now its four months. But we are there when they need us, instant communication on the mobile. " he told SBS News.

SBS World News

The chance to return to Tokyo for the Olympics is an incredible opportunity - for the whole Sakakibara family.

"It's a really special Olympics," Kai told SBS News.

"If we can win gold together, that'll be the icing on the cake," added Saya.