Nikita Ducarroz of USA poses for an action shot on the iconic Bir-Hakeim Bridge in Paris, France, on September 28, 2023.
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Queens of BMX – who are the women pushing the boundaries?

A new generation of BMX athletes are redefining what’s possible on two wheels, and this time women are at the head of the pack. Here are four riders leading the charge...
By Matt Ray
3 min readPublished on

Lara Lessmann, 24, Germany. Freestyle BMX: the one with the inner strength

Lara Lessmann performs at the Red Bull BMX Performance Camp in Reims, France on September 29, 2023

Lara Lessmann

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BMX riders are known for putting their bodies on the line and pushing through injuries, but in 2021, Lara Lessmann took this to the next level. Six weeks before the Olympics, the two-time UCI World Cup winner crashed at the Urban Cycling World Championships in Montpellier, France, breaking her collarbone and needing immediate surgery. Most people ruled her out for the rest of the year, but two weeks later she was back on the bike. Come Tokyo, Lessmann not only competed but placed sixth. “For me, BMX riding is more than a freestyle sport,” she says. “It‘s my passion and my life.“

Mariana Pajón, 32, Columbia. BMX Racing: the one with the knowledge

Mariana Pajón training in Bogota, Colombia

Mariana Pajón

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If you‘re searching for a world expert in BMX, look no further than Mariana Pajón. She stands as the most decorated female BMXer in the sport‘s history. Pajón, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, entered her first competition at age five and became a world champion by nine. Her achievements speak volumes: 18 world championships, three Olympic medals and three times the overall winner of the BMX Supercross World Cup. While Pajón continues to pursue titles, she’s also a staunch and passionate advocate for the next generation of young women entering the sport. “The future belongs to those who believe in their dreams,“ she says.

Nikita Ducarroz, 27, Switzerland. Freestyle BMX: the one who’s got the love

Nikita Ducarroz performs at the Red Bull BMX Performance Camp in Reims, France on September 27, 2023.

Nikita Ducarroz

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For Nikita Ducarroz, BMX isn‘t just a sport, it‘s how she tackled anxiety and transformed her life. The 27-year-old – who has openly discussed her struggles with mental health – first took up BMX at the age of 13 and discovered the solo sport helped her confront her anxiety issues head-on. By the time she’d turned 19, BMX had become her career, and at the age of 24 she won an Olympic medal. Over the past few years, Ducarroz has emerged as a powerful advocate for mental health and launched the Mind Tricks platform to provide support to others in action sports. “It‘s a topic we often shy away from discussing,” she says. “So anything I can do to make it easier for me and for other people is something worth pursuing.“

Saya Sakakibara, 24, Australia. BMX Racing: the one who thrives under pressure

Saya Sakakibara  Saya Sakakibara performs at Macarthur BMX Track in Camden, Australia, on November 8, 2023.

Saya Sakakibara

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BMX racing is a heart-pounding, nerve-wracking blend of speed and agility that’s as much about mental strength as it is physical prowess. It‘s no wonder that most riders admit to feeling a degree of pre-race trepidation, and Saya Sakakibara has more reason to be apprehensive than most. The Australian rider’s older brother, BMX racer Kai Sakakibara, was injured in a competition crash in 2020, suffering a serious injury that ended his riding career. Only months later, Saya herself crashed at the Tokyo Olympics, sustaining serious concussion. While most riders might have considered stepping away from the bike, she persevered. With the eyes of the world on her, Sakakibara returned in 2023 to win the final of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup in Argentina.