Small Michigan town cheers on BMX medal favorite

Japan 2020

BUCHANAN, Mich. (WOOD) — A 19-year-old from southwestern Michigan is going for the gold in BMX freestyle, a brand new event at the Olympics.

Hannah Roberts grew up in Buchanan, a small town near the Michigan-Indiana border, north of South Bend. She is a three-time world champion and a favorite to win gold in Tokyo.

A sign in Buchanan shows support for Olympian Hannah Roberts. (July 29, 2021)

Her mother Betty Roberts said her family is beyond proud of her success and is excited to cheer her on with friends, family, and the community.

“My husband and I had plans to go for all three weeks of the events and unfortunately COVID came in, and then they finally opened up the Olympics to take and run them this year, and no spectators,” Betty Roberts said.

When the family started organizing a watch party, they were expecting several dozens of people. The event quickly grew into an outside event in downtown Buchanan Saturday night.

“We couldn’t experience the community coming around us if we were in Japan, so you’ve got to look at it that way,” Betty Roberts said.

Hannah Roberts is trailblazer in the sport and has fought for opportunities for women and girls.

“She started in this sport as probably one of the single girls doing BMX, had to ride with the boys, had to perform with the boys, had to compete against the boys, beat the boys,” Betty Roberts said.

Now, Hannah Roberts will compete in the prelims around 9 p.m. Friday and is expected to also compete in the final at the same time Saturday. The watch party begins at 7 p.m. Saturday at The Common amphitheater.

>>STREAMING LIVE ONLINE: BMX prelims | Finals

“This is not about a medal to her. Yeah, it’s great if she comes back with the gold medal but she wants to represent the United States,” Betty Roberts said.

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