Saya Sakakibara makes it two wins from two days

COVER PIC: Get Snapt

An exhilarating superclass men’s final has rounded out a day of fast and emphatic BMX action at the first stage of the 2019 BMX Australia BAD BOY National Series at Sydney Olympic Park today, Victorian Brandon Te Hiko beating home NSW rider Kai Sakakibara.

In the women’s final it was a second successive win for 19-year-old world number two Saya Sakakibara, who fended off a gutsy challenge from 2016 Australian women’s champion Leanna Curtis. The two ladies – who both hail from the NSW Illawarra – almost made contact in the final corner, only for Sakakibara to slip by Curtis to reach the line first.

For Te Hiko, his start-to-finish victory over his close mate and world number eight Kai Sakakibara marked a breakthrough result in field full of fast riders.

“It’s been a battle for me on the bike in the past few weeks, I haven’t been feeling amazing lately, so I just tried to ride for fun today…like I used to as a kid and that spurred me on,” Te Hiko recalled.

“When you get to these races, anything can happen on the day and you’re just another rider. Rankings are amazing, I am number one in Australia and Kai will understand as well, that when you are here there is a lot of pressure no matter your ranking. Everyone is stepping up and you need to be hitting the gas right from the first lap of the day.”

In the women’s final it was the younger Sakakibara who once again proved why she is considered one of the best up and coming riders on the international stage. Despite her rising reputation as a world-beater, the young Aussie said she had been expecting the late attack from Curtis in the women’s feature race.

Saya Sakakibara on her way to victory on day one.

“It feels great to get two in a row, I won yesterday, but today was always going to be tougher with Leanna hunting me down after she came second yesterday,” Sakakibara said.

“She did just that [attack] on the third straight and I heard the commentary calling that she was close to me. I could see here there, and I thought she was going to bump into me, but I was just ahead to avoid her.”

Both of today’s superclass winners will now turn their attention to the competition that awaits them on foreign shores. Both are planning to contest a handful of UEC European BMX Cup rounds before having a tilt at the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Rounds.

The jewel in the crown of this year’s international competition will then come at July’s UCI BMX World Championships in Belgium. The results from that event will play a significant role in team selection for the Australian BMX team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The second stage of the 2019 BMX Australia Bad Boy National Series will take place at Westside BMX Club in Perth from March 2-3.