In a brilliant performance, Australian riders have combined for three podium placings in the first round of the 2020 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup at Shepparton in the heart of Victoria.
It was the first time Australia has hosted a world cup round in more than a decade and the locals took advantage, with Rio Olympian Anthony Dean and Tokyo hopeful Saya Sakakibara grabbing silver medals, while rising star Izaac Kennedy finished third.
Dual Olympian Lauren Reynolds finished fifth in the women’s race too, making it the first time since the second round of the 2015 world cup in Papendal that four Australians were featured in finals on the same day. That time around it was Dean, Sam Willoughby, Reynolds and Caroline Buchanan.
Dean and Kennedy were pipped in the men’s race by reigning world cup champion Niek Kimman (Netherlands), while Sakakibara followed home only American world champion Alise Willoughby. Colombian two-time Olympic gold medallist Marian Pajon was third in the women’s event.
Willoughby, who alongside Reynolds is trained by her husband, London Olympic silver medallist and Australian BMX Hall of Famer Sam Willoughby, raced in a helmet that was painted half in the red, white and blue of her native USA and half in the green and gold of Australia was a popular winner, despite getting the best of Sakakibara.
The 20-year-old Australian had looked electric leading into the final and was the fastest qualifier from the semis, returning to the world cup podium for the first time since her breakthrough victory in Santiago Del Estero in the final round of 2018.
In the men’s event Dean was back in the top three for the first time since the same Santiago Del Estero round in 2018 and the 2016 Olympic finalist, who also trains under Sam Willoughby, was over the moon with his performance.
“It was good racing, warm day, hot weather and now it’s raining so it was a crazy day,” Dean said as rain bucketed down on the track just minutes after the conclusion of the event.
“It’s a long track, very demanding so I’m just happy to finish with a second, even though I really wanted that win in front of a home crowd. Second place though, I am stoked with that.”
Dean said recovery would be key ahead of Sunday’s second round, but he was confident of a strong showing.
“Definitely after today’s performance, I know where I am at, I know I am capable of winning so I’m very excited to go home and rest, get ready for tomorrow.”
Meanwhile Kennedy showed that he is the hottest teenage prospect in men’s BMX by snaring his third podium in just his second ever world cup final and only his sixth ever stop in the sport’s premier global series.
Dual Olympian and former world champion Caroline Buchanan continued her return from serious injury but was knocked out in the quarterfinals in a dent to her bid for a third Olympic Games berth.
Sakakibara’s brother Kai, who finished 2019 ranked tenth in the world, looked fantastic all day before becoming a surprise elimination in the 1/8th final.
Racing resumes at midday on Sunday.
For a full list of Australian results, see below:
|Anthony Dean – SECOND||Saya Sakakibara – SECOND|
|Izaac Kennedy – THIRD||Lauren Reynolds – FIFTH|
|Kai Sakakibara – 1/8th final||Caroline Buchanan – ¼ final|
|Corey Frieswyk – 1/8th final||Des’Ree Barnes – Last Chance round|
|Jayce Cunning – 1/8th final||Rachel Gaskin – Last Chance round|
|Bodi Turner – 1/8th final||Erin Lockwood – 1/8th final|
|Max Cairns – 1/8th final||Sara Jones – Last Chance round|
|Joshua McLean – 1/8th final||Shannon Petre – Last Chance round|
|Andrew Hughes – 1/8th final||Georgia Potter – Last Chance round|
|Matt Krasevskis – 1/16th final||Annaliese Rokov – Last Chance round|
|Bradley Game – 1/16th final||Kiana Botfield – Last Chance round|
|Nathaniel Rodway – 1/16th final|
|Wade Turner – 1/16th final|
|Joshua McDermott – 1/16th final|
|Shane Rosa – 1/16th final|
|Kyle Hill – 1/16th final|
|Joshua Boyton – 1/16th final|
|Oliver Moran – Last Chance round|
|Corey Taylor – Last Chance round|
|Hayden Fletcher – Last Chance round|
|Brandon Te Hiko – Last Chance round|
|Dylan Bennetts – Last Chance round|
|Matthew Tidswell – Last Chance round|
|Marcus Wigg – Last Chance round|
|Diesel Connor – Last Chance round|
|Adam Carey – Last Chance round|
|Damon Hocking – Last Chance round|
|Ethan Zrna – Last Chance round|
|Harrison Craig – Last Chance round|
|Benjamin Bullen-Aslin – Last Chance round|
|Nathan Glab – Last Chance round|