BMX racer, Natalia Afremova is one to watch. In 2017 she took the win at the European Cup, and this year she’s killing it at the World Cup circuit, claiming top podium spots in Verona and Zolder. This Olympic hopeful is currently ranked #10 in the world and #1 in her home country of Russia. We wanted to learn more about Natalia Afremova, so we sent her some quick questions to answer! Natalia’s native language is Russian, so we appreciate her doing this in English!
For those of us who don’t know, how were you introduced to BMX?
It was in 2007. I went to classes of rhythmic gymnastics. My brother went to classes of BMX race. I tried training on BMX and I liked it. Later my coach said to me: “You need make a choice, BMX race or rhythmic gymnastics. These sports are not compatible.” And so I made a choice.
What has been your #1 most memorable win so far and why?
I have many memories, I remember first victories in international competitions and I think it was the most memorable. I think the first impressions are always most bright in life.
What’s a struggle you deal with daily when it comes to racing, and how do you deal with it?
I constantly struggle with myself, it is very difficult because it seems the ideal does not exist. But I survive.
Do you still get nervous on the gate? Any advice on how to deal with that?
I just do what I can. Just need to believe in yourself.
What is a normal day of eating like during a race week?
Lately, I prefer to eat fish with rice or ratatouille.
Russia is pretty big obviously but if there are 3 tracks that everyone must visit, what would they be?
3 tracks that everyone must visit. Let me think. I would prefer BMX track in Penza, in Saint-Petersburg and in Moscow.
Do you have any pre-race rituals? Superstitions?
Yes, I have some pre-race rituals. I do not believe in superstition.
In 2013 you got 3rd for Time Trials at Zolder, any idea why they stop doing that and do you miss it?
The time trial is a difficult race and interesting for athletes, but the audience needs a show. The race on time is not so interesting to watch.
On the World Cup Circuit, what’s your favorite and least favorite track and why.
I really like the track in Saint-Quentin, the least favorite – Papendal. Wind always blows in Holland.
Racers on the UCI circuit have to race twice on a weekend, each day is equally as important. By the second day of racing, is it possible to feel fresh after the first day of racing?
Every day I wake up with new power and the desire to make this day.
When you made the switch from Junior to Elite, what changed for you?
When I made the switch from Junior to Elite, I felt a tighter and stronger competition.
What is the race scene like in Russia, especially for women, is there a lot of competition?
Russia has it’s racing calendar, for Russian Elite – National Cup, Championships Russia. Watch out for the Russian Nationals women’s team.
What is the story behind fire-spinning, where did you learn to fire-spin? Still doing this today?
I started a fire show when I joined the Elite, and since then this activity has become a part of me. I continue to improve in this art.
I’ve seen some photos of you track cycling, how does that help with your racing?
I think everything that I do gives its benefits for the BMX Race. I think if I want to – I will succeed in any activity.
Lastly, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics coming up, are you excited, nervous, hopeful?
I have no emotions in relation to the opportunity to participate, first I need to earn a quota.