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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.

COVER PIC: Courtesy of GET SNAPT 

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:

MEN WOMEN
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