Sisters Ashley and Emily Hayes are both BMX athletes hoping to make the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team.
For 19-year-old BMX racers Ashley and Emily Hayes, when they do something, they almost always do it together. The twin sisters, or “wombmates and best friends” as they call themselves, started their sport at the same age — at 9.
“Ashley started two weeks earlier than me because my bike took a long time to ship,” Emily remembered about that Wal-Mart bike.
Ashley has been leading the way ever since. She was also the first one to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, at age 3. Over the years, she has got good at juggling her diagnosis with her racing. But she said she has to pay close attention to any issues she might be having so that her body is always healthy and race-ready.
For Emily, her diagnosis came a year later, and was exciting because it was another way she got to be like her sister — the person who inspires her the most.
“She just works really hard,” Emily said. “Her mentality going into racing and on the track… She inspires me to have that kind of mentality.”
The feelings are mutual, Ashley said. “Emily inspires me to do better, to perform better and to handle situations better.”
The Colorado Springs, CO natives — who both hope to make the Olympic team in 2024 — seem to get injured around the same time, too.
In 2019 when Emily crashed and dislocated her shoulder at a world championship, the most painful part of her recovery was that her twin wasn’t doing physical therapy with her.
Thankfully Emily said her sister “came to P.T. with me — for support.”
Family has always been a big part of their sport as they grew up riding BMX on the track their parents ran in Colorado Springs. It was there where they first started racing with the entire family — mom, dad and their three older siblings included.
In physical therapy it wasn’t long before Ashley was there for herself. “I was skiing and tore my ACL,” she revealed about the worst injury she has ever experienced — and it wasn’t a result of BMX. “I had to get a complete ACL replacement.”