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BMX champ Sakakibara inspired by younger sister ahead of first world cup Freshly minted BMX national champion Kai Sakakibara has revealed that the international exploits of younger sister Saya will be his motivation at this…

BMX champ Sakakibara inspired by younger sister ahead of first world cup

Freshly minted BMX national champion Kai Sakakibara has revealed that the international exploits of younger sister Saya will be his motivation at this weekend’s UCI BMX Supercross World Cup rounds in Papendal, Netherlands.

Last weekend Sakakibara darted his way around carnage to win the elite men’s final at the Australian national championships in Brisbane. In doing so he beat home Rio Olympic finalist Anthony Dean and fellow Rio rider Bodi Turner, who were both unable to avoid the melee on the first turn.

After claiming his maiden elite crown – his first national title since he was an 11-year-old – Sakakibara said it was his sister Saya who has inspired him to push his boundaries. Saya claimed a breakout second place at her first ever BMX World Cup in Rock Hill, USA last October at just 17-years-of-age.

“Saya’s the one that’s been breaking down that barrier for us as siblings,” Sakakibara said.

“She got on the podium at her first ever world cup, which is amazing. It proved to me that it (strong results) can be achieved and that has just added fuel to the fire.

“Winning the national title was about proving it can be done as well.”

This weekend the world’s elite will descend on Papendal for the opening two rounds of the revamped BMX world cup, where a new cutthroat format will be used to determine the winner.

Riders will contest an opening round, where the top four from each heat progress to the next round of competition. Riders who miss the cut will race a ‘last chance’ or repechage round, where the top four again progress to the finals, while all others are eliminated.

It’s a system that will require riders to race with spades of self-belief, which is an area that has been a major focal point for Sakakibara in 2017.

“Self-belief feels like the last piece of the puzzle for me, and that will be the big challenge moving forward at these world cups,” he said.

“After I won the Oceania title in March I said that getting the first win is the hardest. I have been able to consistently deliver results nationally, now it’s about replicating that at the world cup rounds.

“Backing myself will be a challenge into the future, but right now I’m feeling good about it.”

Sakakibara will be one of 12 Aussies contesting the opening two world cup rounds, with Dean and Turner as well as two-time Olympian Lauren Reynolds also taking part.

Victoria’s Joshua McLean and Queensland’s Tristyn Kronk, who rounded out the elite men’s podium at the national championships, will also race. As will fellow Queensland riders Jye Hombsch and two-time Aussie champion Corey Frieswyk.

Victoria’s Brandon Te Hiko, South Australia’s Shane Rosa and NSW rider Andrew Hughes join the Aussie contingent. Former Australian women’s champion Leanna Curtis joins Reynolds as one of two females on the team.

The 2017 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup kicks off in Papendal, Netherlands on Friday May 5 with practice. Round 1 of the world cup takes place on Saturday May 6, round two on Sunday May 7.

Viewing details are below.

Round 1: Begins Saturday May 6, 11pm AEST – You can watch the LIVE STREAM here.

Round 2: Begins Saunday May 6, 10.30pm AEST – You can watch the LIVE STREAM here.