COLOMBIANS are well-known for being deeply passionate about their country, but in the case of BMX star Mariana Pajon it takes on a whole new dimension.
It was the passion of her Colombian fans and her desire to be a good role model which helped drive her as she recovered from an tearing her ACL and a partial MCL tear in her left knee after crashing in 2018.
It is a passion she hopes will not only bring her success in rounds three and four of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Bathurst this weekend, but help carry her to glory at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
"It's really nice to have that support from your country, but at the same time I have that responsibility to be a good ambassador for my country," she said.
"I think that's why I'm here, I've won everything already, but I know my country is expecting me to do it again. It's me and my bike and I am doing my best to try and represent my country all over the world.
"I think I feel the support and the pressure, but I transform that to energy, positive energy. They believe in me, so it's the right time for me to believe.
"I am trying to tell kids that even if you fall, you can just get straight up and go on and follow your dreams."
Before Pajon's crash in a 2018 World Cup event in Papendal, Netherlands, which sidelined her for nine months, she had already achieved so much success on the bike she had been dubbed the 'Queen of BMX'.
She is a three-times elite women's world champion, has made 44 World Cup finals and is the Olympic gold medallist from the London and Rio Games.
When she stood on the top tier of the dais at Rio, she became the first Colombian athlete to win two individual Olympic gold medals.
She would love to add another to her collection later this year and while she is still working back to her top form following the knee injury, the signs have been good.
Last weekend in Shepparton as the 2020 World Cup season began, Pajons snared a bronze medal in round one then placed 17th in round two.
They are results which encouraged the 28-year-old.
"It was a really good surprise, last year it wasn't easy for me, I did a lot of work in the off-season ... last weekend really motivated me and I'm really happy about it," she said.
"I'm just happy to be on my bike and riding my bike again and feeling strong again and doing what I love. I have been in the Olympics two times, I know I can do it three times.
"I am just enjoying the moment right now, I'm really grateful that I'm riding my bike, making my sport as my work and my passion. It's an Olympic year, but it's just another year doing what I love."
While Bathurst is thousands of kilometres away from Colombia, Pajon still enjoyed good support in Shepparton and is anticipating the same in Bathurst.
She even went as far as saying: "I'm really far from home, but I feel like I am home, so it's very cool."
"Even here we receive a lot of messages that Colombians are coming from Sydney, from all over, just to watch us race," she said.
"I grew up in sport that wasn't really known, it was more the men doing it then. But then I won my first gold medal and my country got crazy. Now I have a lot of fans everywhere, not only all over the country, but all over the world.
"To get this sport getting bigger and bigger in my country ... it's full of people, they don't even ride bikes but they just love watching it."
The elite women will be on the track for the first time in a practice session on Saturday morning from 10am.
The first round commences at 11.35am and Pajons hopes to ride in the final at 3pm as well.