With less than one year to go until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the Australian Team has its sights on the 2019 UCI BMX World Championships.
Wollongong’s Saya Sakakibara heads into the World Championships following a mixed opening to her 2019 World Cup season which saw her crash out of the semi-final of April’s opening round, forcing her to miss the second round with concussion.
“I am excited to be racing Worlds,” said Saya, who regrouped to claim two finals appearances, highlighted by a fifth in the last round in France, across four rounds held in May and June.
“I haven’t had the best season so far having a few crashes early which set me back. But I really feel that over the past few weeks I have made some small improvements coming into worlds and my helping with my confidence.”
It will be the 19-year-old’s second World Championship campaign in the elite field following an outstanding debut in 2018 which saw her finish sixth. And with the Tokyo Olympic Games just one year away, Saya knows the level of competition will be higher than ever this week in Belgium.
“The women’s field is quite competitive and tough, it will be difficult for me to keep the single-digit [a number six race plate] I have been running for the past twelve months, but it is possible and I have high hopes I can get myself into the final and come away with a good result.”
Kai Sakakibara enters his fifth consecutive elite World Championships with season honours including a career-best World Cup fourth-place in May’s third round, plus three semi-final finishes.
“Always anxiety, anticipation and excitement coming into a Worlds, it is a whole new event every year, the most important event of 2019 for BMX,” said Kai. “I know the Zolder track well having raced my first elite Worlds there five years ago in 2015, and I know have improved a lot in the past four years, and I would like to showcase that in 2019.
“I’ve been getting some great practise in over the past few months and I’m feeling ready and confident coming into the racing.”
2016 Olympic finalist Anthony Dean heads to a sixth straight Worlds Championships off the back of a consistent World Cup season which has seen him recently reach the finals in the third round held in France in June.
“I am excited to be a part of the team and excited to get there and showcase my skills,” said Dean, who enjoyed success on the Zolder track with a podium at the 2018 World Cup. “This year, especially leading into the Olympics for 2020, I am focused on getting better and improve as much as I can in all aspects.
“I think I am bringing a pretty good package this year to Worlds, and I am excited to get back to this track and land on the podium this year.”
Dual Olympian Lauren Reynolds will take her place in the starting gate for twelfth consecutive World Championships, with the 28-year-old’s green and gold campaign beginning in 2008 in the junior category.
“It is an absolute honour to be a part of the team again and putting on the national jersey, and I am very excited for the World Championships,” said Reynolds, who won World Championship silver in 2013. “It is the biggest race of the year and with one year out from the Olympic Games, the level of racing is higher than it has ever been.
“Certainly I have high expectations, like every year, I have had a great preparation so am excited to get out there and put out a good performance.”
The elite team also features Erin Lockwood, Matt Krasevskis, Izaac Kennedy and Josh McLean who will make their elite World Championship debut.
The Under 19 team includes Des’ree Barnes, Matt Tidswell, Jack Davis, Oliver Moran and Corey Taylor.
2019 AUSTRALIAN TEAM
UNDER 19 MEN
UNDER 19 WOMEN
(Courtesy of Cycling Australia)