Name: Natalya Diehm
Age: 24 years old
Hometown: Gladstone, Central Queensland, Australia.
Gladstone-born Natalya Diehm made history as one of Australia’s first Olympic BMX freestylers when Freestyle BMX made its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. She was only one of the two BMX freestylers selected, alongside Logan Martin and the first Australian woman to compete in the women’s event.
Diehm is a 3 x gold medalist at the Australian National titles and placed fifth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
It’s been a massive journey of recovery for the Olympian after she almost left the sport after her fourth knee reconstructive surgery, but her perseverance and passion for the sport have seen her make a comeback as one of the top female athletes in the world and she’s now more excited than ever to be competing at the Urban Sports Fest on the Gold Coast in December.
The Urban Sport Fest will bring 150 of the world’s best freestyle BMX riders to the coast, running alongside a music festival to be held at Gold Coast Sports Precinct beside Metricon Stadium and it will be the first time women will be offered the same prize money as men in the sport.
We caught up with Natalya on her background and journey to starting her career as an Australian BMX Freestyle Champion.
Australian BMX Freestyle Female Champion Natalya Diehm
USF: What are your earliest memories of riding BMX?
Natalya: I remember the first day I rode a BMX. I lived in a small beach town in Boyne Island, Tannum Sands and a lot of the kids rode to school. So I remember at eight, my parents surprised me with a new bike, and they took me to the skate park. From there on in, if you wanted to find me I’d be in the skate park.
USF: What was your friendship circle at the skatepark like?
Natalya: I actually don’t remember having friends from school that early on, I just always had skate park friends, and mainly all boys and my older sister was there. They were just always there and we’d always push each other to be better and we’d hang there, and then have sleepovers. It was just a lot of fun. So yeah, all my friends were from the skate park.
USF: Did you ever race BMX early on in your career?
Natalya: Early on I was always into freestyle, I think my dad mentioned a few times that he could take me to the racetrack. But I wasn’t interested, at all. With freestyle, it’s in the name. You get to do what you want, make up your own tricks, have your own style, be in your own head, have your earphones in, and just have fun with your friends. I wasn’t interested in going hard and fast around a race truck. There’s a distinctive winner in a race – first and fastest is the winner, but in BMX freestyle, it’s so subjective to what’s good and what’s not. And I love that you can make it your own.
USF: Do you have much influence from your family and friends?
Natalya: I have been really lucky to have supportive parents, even younger on, my parents would travel to the Gold Coast because they had better facilities, or we’d travel up to Rocky. They would buy me a new bike, or a new bike part, and even if I needed a new part, and they knew I liked the colour purple, they’d get me a purple brake cable. So I was very lucky. The passion and the love they showed has kept me in the sport for many years through injuries and through the down times and wanting to give up. But you can’t give up and they have helped me get me through where I am today.
USF: Where does your confidence come from?
Natalya: I do look for the confidence within myself, you have to believe it to have it. I do source out from my family as well if I’m feeling down or have doubts. I often call my parents and have a chat with them before a contest, and they’re always like ‘Don’t be silly, you know you can do this, why are you overthinking it?’ So I do source it out, but if you can find it within yourself and believe it; it’s going to happen.
USF: What do you do when you don’t have your support network around you?
Natalya: I’m exposing myself here, but I will talk to myself in the mirror and motivate myself, especially if I don’t have anyone around. I tell myself, “I am the best” and sometimes you have to just give yourself those supportive words and motivation to get you going. If you’re feeling doubtful, scared and nervous, you have to use that energy to your advantage for positive riding. It’s all a learning curve, and once you learn the tactics to mentally get motivated for a contest it’s great.
Urban Sport Fest will run from December 9-11 at Gold Coast Sports & Leisure Centre with an inclusive, affordable, and action-packed offering across three days.
3-day event passes for Urban Sport Festival are on sale now!