mental health and mountain bike racing

On the finish of 2017, Yana Belomoina had the world at her ft. A World Cup champion at simply 24 years outdated, the years since then haven’t been the simplest. Her racing has been restricted attributable to accidents: she’s had three surgical procedures and with the lengthy restoration instances wanted she’s needed to miss necessary races.

The Ukrainian athlete marched away with the World Cup general title in 2017 in dominant vogue having received three races in Albstadt, Vallnord and Mont Sainte-Anne, and podiumed in three of the opposite races throughout the season. She additionally took the European Championship crown that 12 months.

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Unhealthy luck with accidents then appeared to observe her round from that time onwards, and the toll of these accidents started to have an effect on her psychological state.

“I had a really profitable [2017] season adopted by a streak of dangerous luck in my sports activities profession. First, there was a fall on the 2017 World Championship, which resulted in a concussion. And after returning to Ukraine, I fell as soon as once more whereas coaching on my bike. Though the autumn was not critical, I couldn’t rise up afterwards. Because it turned out, I broke my hip on account of the autumn.

“The docs mentioned that I might not be capable of experience my bike for half a 12 months, however I didn’t need to imagine them. It was solely the day earlier than that my legs have been the quickest on the planet, and that day I used to be advised that I might not be capable of experience a motorcycle for six months. Furthermore, the docs weren’t even positive whether or not I might be capable of get again to the best stage in any respect,” Belomoina remembers.

Yana Belomoina races through trees with a crowd wathcing, UCI XCO World Cup in Snowshoe, USA on September 8, 2019.

Belomonia felt virtually unbeatable when the 2017 season ended

© Bartek Wolinski/Crimson Bull Media Home

And so started an extended restoration course of going into the 2018 season. Belomoina missed out on regular winter coaching by way of being on the bike, however the hardest half was nonetheless to return.

“The restoration from a hip fracture was very tough and painful, and I needed to stroll with crutches for a fairly very long time. However my want to get again to the beginning was so robust that regardless of being on crutches, I used to be going to the fitness center, swimming pool and was exercising on an train bike.”

Getting again to actual coaching and races was even more durable. I missed my winter coaching, which was important for the entire season, and I additionally misplaced my muscle tone and energy in a single leg. A bit later, all this induced issues with my again and knees – all the pieces is interconnected within the physique. As my workload elevated, my lack of kind made its presence recognized.”

Yana Belomoina performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 19, 2019.

Belomoina misplaced none of her technical abilities whereas out of motion

© Bartek Wolinski/Crimson Bull Content material Pool

However regardless of all the issues, Belomoina solely missed the primary World Cup of 2018, and was on the beginning line for Spherical 2 in Albstadt, Germany. Her return was spectacular, and he or she positioned second, with solely Jolanda Neff forward of her.

“Though I didn’t regain my muscle energy and tone, the talents I had been growing over time allowed me to make a fast return in 2018. And much more, these abilities have been sufficient to make it to the podiums within the World Cup.”

Yana Belomoina as seen with Anne Tauber at the end of the women's UCI XCO World Cup race in Albstadt, Germany on May 20, 2018.

The feelings that flowed from Belomoina at Albstadt have been comprehensible

© Bartek Wolinski/Crimson Bull Content material Pool

However whereas her efficiency was wonderful, a psychological barrier remained: worry of failing to carry out to her fullest capabilities, worry of crashing, worry of ache.

“I had a worry of falling once more, since I suffered ache all 12 months lengthy till the plate was pulled out of my hip. I used to be at all times pondering, ‘What if I fall once more?’ ‘What if I danger using a motorcycle, regardless that the docs warned me to not resume energetic coaching for half a 12 months?’

“I used to be chasing these ideas away. I attempted to assume solely optimistic ideas, however adverse ideas have been coming again once in a while. At the moment, my household and associates who believed in me have been my help. My husband, Maksym, was at all times by my facet; he didn’t let me doubt myself, and this help helped me to regain self-confidence and let go of my fears.”

Each damage is a problem that makes you stronger

Yana Belomoina poses for a portrait at Red Bull Ukraine Athletes Day in Kyiv, Ukraine on December 4, 2019.

Yana Belomoina

Mountain Bike Cross-Nation

Overcoming these fears utterly was essential for Belomoina to have the ability to compete on the highest stage in biking.

“I realised just one factor: both I maintain going or stop. There should still be plenty of hardships and trauma forward, however crucial factor is to have the ability to address them. Each damage is a problem that makes you stronger.”

Yana Belomoina seen in her team's paddock during the UCI XCO World Cup in Nové Město na Moravě, Czech Republic on May 26, 2019

It is all about taking issues in her stride now

© Jan Kasl/Crimson Bull Content material Pool

“One of many foremost issues that girls have is worry. That is particularly apparent in MTB, since this sport requires abilities and is slightly harmful. And the one means out is to work on technical abilities and overcome your worry.”

Belomoina is aware of accidents will come, however she is aware of she has the power to cope with the psychological strain of damage and restoration a lot larger now.

“I’ve fallen once more throughout a race and damaged my arm. We needed to get a plate positioned within the bone. However I can say for positive that it was a lot simpler for me to deal with the trauma emotionally.”

Yana Belomoina performs at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Vallnord, Andorra on July 7, 2019.

Belomoina is wanting ahead to extra moments like these

© Boris Beyer/Crimson Bull Content material Pool

In 2019, Yana Belomoina returned to the rostrum of the European Championship, the place she received silver and bought to the rostrum of the World Cup twice. Though she needed to miss the World Championship, the final time Belomoina rode and completed the Championship was again in 2016.

Belomoina is decided to not stop till she achieves her targets. Whereas her authentic plans for 2020 – the Tokyo Olympics – have been rescheduled for one 12 months, and with World Cup races additionally cancelled bar Nové Město, Belomoina continues to coach laborious and maintain match. When the time involves race, she’ll be prepared.