Natalya Diehm
Natalya Diehm

PHOTOS: Diehm dream real for the Tokyo Olympics

BMX: Gladstone's Natalya Diehm has a stranglehold for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

She produced a stunning debut at the 2019 UCI Urban World Championship in Chengdu, China.

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Diehm, 22, finished sixth in the BMX Park Final to move Australia closer to locking in a spot for Tokyo.

After a shaky start, Diehm got into the groove that won her the 2019 Vans BMX Pro-Skate Park Series in her first international season.

"My first run didn't go as planned, but I did my best in my second run, even though I was trying to play it safe," Diehm said on the Australian Cycling Team website.

She is almost assured of being one of nine women who will compete in the Freestyle competition in Tokyo.

For each gender, the two National Olympic Committee highest ranked in the Elite Individual results of the 2019 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships, which have not yet qualified any quota places, will qualify a maximum of one quota place each.

Chile (second) and Australia (sixth) are the two countries that are ranked highest at the Urban World Cycling Championship outside of the current ranked countries.

"I am super happy for myself, and everyone here, and I hope this means we get a spot at the Tokyo Olympics," Diehm said.

She said she wanted to perform and prove to Cycling Australia that she was to be one of the chosen ones.

"It was a different type of nerves and pressure and everything I had been working towards and achieved this year, all led to this event," Diehm said.

"For me to qualify to make the Australian team, to compete at worlds, I had to prove to Cycling Australia that I could be competitive on the world stage.

"My results in the UCI events in Japan and France were reasonable but it was the Championship win at the Vans BMX pro cup series that got me across the line."

With so much at stake, Diehm said the presence of her mother and overall family support made her composed.

"Luckily I was able to have family support at this event and my mum being there and helping me manage my nerves and keep everything in perspective really helped," she said.

"Big shout out to Nathan 'Lanky' Philps, who helped from afar as well.

"The atmosphere was really good, but you could tell that this wasn't a normal event.

"Everybody there knew how important this event was for Olympic qualification for their nations."

As with most events that have qualifiers, semis and finals, Diehm said this event was a little different.

"For this event there were only 31 women entered, so it was qualifiers then cut to 12 riders for finals," she said.

"Qualifiers is scored as an average of two one-minute runs, meaning you cannot afford to make a mistake.

"Qualifiers in China virtually had to be two semi-final- style runs to make sure you made the cut to finals.

"Semi-finals and finals are two one-minute runs in which the best score counts."

Diehm was one of four Australians in China.

The other three were males, with Brandon Loupos finishing first and the new world champion.

Logan Martin was second and Jake Wallwork 18th.

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