In what was an absolutely thrilling finish to the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships in Rock Hill, Team Australia saw four of our elite riders make it to the championship finals. Caroline Buchanan and Saya…

In what was an absolutely thrilling finish to the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships in Rock Hill, Team Australia saw four of our elite riders make it to the championship finals. Caroline Buchanan and Saya Sakakibarra secured #W2 plates whilst Bodi Turner and Lauren Reynolds finished with impressive sixth and seventh spots.

It was the perfect build up for Caroline Buchanan in the women’s elite championships, cruising through the moto rounds winning all of her heats in outstanding fashion. The early rounds of the finals were much the same story, with Buchanan dominating her opponents including reigning world champion Mariana Pajon.

“My preparation was good. My last competitive BMX race was obviously the national championships at Sleeman so I think coming into this season doing BMX and mountain biking I had some good results on the US stage, I won the Australian national championships. A lot of my focus has been on mountain biking (this year) so a little bit different preparation but I really felt good on my bike coming into this event,” Buchanan explained.

In the final, Buchanan spent the entire race sitting hot on the heal of Alise Post, USA rider and fiancé of Australian hero Sam Willoughby. Post powered out strongly from the gates but it was the final straight of the track where we saw Buchanan surge back at the American, only to narrowly miss out on the world championship title by 0.008 seconds.

“I won my quarter final, won my semi-final and had first lane in the final. I got out really well, Alise came over and it’s never over until the finish line. I fought all the way to the last straight, pulled up on her, pushed to a photo finish and she got it,” Buchanan said.

“It was down to the wire, I couldn’t believe it. I’m stoked for Alise, it’s the first world championship that she has won.”

Reynolds also made it to the women’s elite championships final after a scare in the semi’s. The Bunbury BMX club junior fought back from last position to come home powerfully in third place. Reynolds wasn’t so lucky in the final, starting slowly from the gates and struggling to get back into the race, finishing up with a #W7 plate.

Leanna Curtis also had a fantastic day of racing, just missing out on a finals spot by finishing fifth in heat one of the women’s elite championships semi-final.

Sakakiarra from Southlake Illawarra BMX club looked like she was a shoe in for the #W1 plate in the women’s junior elite championships. Sakakibarra sailed through the moto rounds and finals, averaging margins of over a second to her next opponent.

After leading the entire final, Sakakibara was nabbed at the line by Great Britain rider Bethany Shriever in what was a heartbreaking moment for the whole of the Australian team.

After seeing 2016 Olympian Anthony Dean crash out in the 1/8th finals, it was up to Olympic teammate Bodi Turner to fly the flag for Australia in the men’s elite championships. Turner cruised through the moto rounds and battled hard in the quarter and semi-finals to secure a spot in the men’s top eight.

“I was getting out of the gate well but as it comes to the crunch it gets harder and I got squeezed out a few times. I felt like I had that fight today. Sometimes it’s not really there, at times it got a little sketchy but I just took it to the line every time and kept qualifying,” Turner said.

“I’ve been doing pretty well on the world circuit. I had the confidence because I knew I was riding good and feeling good. It was all flowing well. I was just so excited to make that final.”.

Reigning Australian national champion Kai Sakakibara crashed just short of the line in the men’s elite championships quarter final while in fourth place to end his day on a sour note.

Australia was unfortunate to have none of our men’s junior elite championship contenders reach the final. Izaac Kennedy and Matt Kraveskis both reached the semi-final but tangled together ending in a crash which saw their championships come to a close.

See below the full results from today’s event.