Natalia Niedźwiedź: The European Games is a big event and promotion of our sport!
The European Games are fast approaching. The event, which will be hosted by Krakow, is a chance for many athletes to show off to large audiences and, at the same time, promote disciplines that have not been particularly popular in our country so far. Among them is BMX Freestyle – a very spectacular form of cycling. Natalia Niedzwiedz, who loves riding on two wheels regardless of what kind of bike she has to get on, talked about her preparations and ambitions.
The countdown to the European Games in Krakow and Malopolska is in full swing. The sports competition is just over 100 days away. There will be no shortage of BMX Freestyle cycling. For you, this is a great opportunity to present yourself in front of Polish fans in a really big event! How are your expectations? Are you already sure about the performance?
– I plan to take part in the European Games. It was not an easy decision because Crankworx in Innsbruck is being held at the same time. However, it fell on Krakow. Before the competition I have a lot of work ahead of me with the bmx better feeling of the bike and obstacles for such a track. The event will be quite a challenge.
Do you feel that it is events like this that will help promote the sport among our countrymen? There is no denying it – it is very spectacular. Do you think it will be adopted? Why is it worth following this very sport?
– By all means. Gravity cycling is quite a little-known sport in Poland especially in comparison with soccer. It is events like this that will help promote and spread the sport and maybe even encourage more people to start the adventure of gravity riding.
BMX Freestyle cycling officially made its debut at the 2023 Tokyo Olympics. I’m betting that you’ve certainly been following the activities of top athletes in this field. Do you see yourself on the Olympic track in the future?
– It is quite a long way ahead, for the time being I have been riding bmx for a short time. The specifics of the ride, how the bike behaves is quite different on small 20-inch wheels compared to the 26-inch I ride every day. I have a long way to go to match the world’s top riders.
What form of cycling suits you best? Bmx? Mountain bike? The forest, a performance on the market or maybe snow in Bialka Tatrzanska and flips in the air? Do you have your favorite form of cycling?
– Here it will definitely be MTB, dirt bike to be exact. A stiff agile bike on 26-inch wheels. I feel most confident on it, plus hops (jumps) and some cool tricks is something that gives me the most joy. Competitions and shows are a great opportunity to meet with friends from all over Poland, show your skills to people and generally have a good time, regardless of whether it’s the middle of the city, a snow hill in the mountains or the forest. I equally enjoy riding local trails with local friends or by myself.
On your socials you can be seen riding, hopping around many places in Poland and beyond. The market in Rzeszow, Wadowice, the beach in Ustka. Last year you made your debut as the first representative of Poland at the Crankworx competition in Innsbruck, you performed in the urban world championships in Abu Dhabi, and you are only 18 years old. Can you be called a Polish hope when it comes to competitive cycling?
– I’ve only recently entered the world of competition, which I really enjoyed. I will want to continue to develop in this direction to visit more competitions, events and try different varieties of gravity cycling. I’m happy because the women’s scene is growing strongly, thanks to which more and more female categories are appearing, which gives the opportunity to participate in more competitions and events, and also helps women to develop further. We can see this for example at FEST SERIES or slopestyle competitions.
What is your best memory from your career so far? One performance, one jump – do you have something like that?
– It’s hard to pick one. Each performance brought something new cool to my riding, I especially like to collect new experiences that will come in handy later. I have a few jumps that I remember particularly well, such as the last two jumps in Bialka, the one foot can backflip in Innsbruck or the double backflip at the Freestyle Heroes show. The double backflip wasn’t off-putting however it was a big step in breaking through to the trick, now I’m just waiting for the next opportunity to try it again.
What does your day look like. How much time do you spend on training and preparation? Is it worth doing competitive cycling in Poland?
– The vast majority of the facilities that make development possible are in the open, so whether they work at any given time depends on the weather. I try to ride every day, however, the weather will not always allow and I have to remember rest, which is equally important. Cycling is a super way to spend time actively, many places are in the woods which gives you a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is also an opportunity to meet many amazing people with the same interest.
Back to the European Games. BMX Freestyle cycling will be held in Krzeszowice. How do you see the chances of the polish team? At the last Olympics in Tokyo there were no representatives of our country. Now we hope that there will be more reasons to be happy.
– The Polish national team had the opportunity to grow in the last year. The guys are showing cool skilling, they are training all the time gaining experience at the biggest cup competitions or world championships, so I think the red and white have an opportunity to take a nice place at the European Games.
When you learned that an event like the European Games would be held in Poland, what did you feel?
– For sure it is a super opportunity. The competitions are local so there’s no long trip far outside Poland, planning everything. There will be more strength left for the competition. Above all, it is an opportunity to promote the sport for Poles. The European Games is quite an event.
What is your plan for 2023? What goals are you setting for yourself?
– There are several ideas. I would like to try riding a suspended bike, if I don’t have a problem with it I plan to appear at the Polish Fest Series in Kudowa. To visit as many slopestyle competition events as possible. So far I have a few selected. Of the bigger ones, the ones I’m particularly keen on are RedBull District Ride and The Nines if it is reopened. Beyond that, further training on small wheels for bmx competitions.
The flu season has caught up with you as well. Are you preparing a longer break and lying in a warm bed, or is it likely that such an athlete quickly returns to form?
– Unfortunately, the flu won’t skip, I’ll have to wait as long as it takes until I recover and then get right back to riding and further training.
Thank you for the interview and see you at the 2023 European Games!
Interviewed by Karol Garncarz