IF Rachel Jones reaches her goal of competing in BMX at the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro she will look back fondly on 2014 as the building block of that achievement.
It has been a whirlwind year for the Lake Macquarie BMX Club product.
Jones moved to the Gold Coast, joined Australia’s four-person elite women’s squad and experienced the highs and lows of international supercross racing.
‘‘It’s definitely been interesting,’’ Jones said.
‘‘Coming into this year I didn’t really know what to expect.
‘‘I’d done a lot of stuff with the junior development, so I had an idea of the things that go on. But because I hadn’t raced those girls, I didn’t know where I sat against them. I always went in positive and I think I achieved a lot more than I probably expected at the start of the year given I moved up here in January and started training.’’
After competing in two of the five supercross motos this season in Berlin and Chula Vista in California, Jones finished the season with a world ranking of No.28 in the elite women.
Jones, who turned 19 on Saturday, recorded her best performance in Chula Vista three weeks ago when she reached the semi-finals.
However, her breakthrough result was marred by a crash on the opening hill.
Jones was side-swiped by another rider and left with a badly bruised knee.
Any concerns about the injury were dispelled when she returned home to Lake Macquarie’s Argenton track a week later to finish second in the NSW titles.
Qualification for Rio has been Jones’ long-term target since she was crowned the 13-year girl Australian BMX champion in 2010.
Only two women riders can qualify for Rio.
Canberra’s world No.1 Caroline Buchanan and eighth-ranked Melinda McLeod, from Mackay, are the hot favourites.
Jones is ranked fourth in Australia behind world No.14 Lauren Reynolds but hopes to make up ground on her rivals in the next 18 months.
‘‘There’s not much difference between the third and fourth girl and anything can change in the next couple of months,’’ she said.
‘‘Once this next season kicks off and you start getting those points for Olympic qualification, the more UCI [Union Cycliste Internationale] points the higher ranking you get.
‘‘I’m standing fourth at the moment and it can definitely change once Rio comes around.’’