Teenage BMX racing sensation Saya Sakakibara and freestyle superstar Logan Martin have been named the 2018 BMX cyclists of the year at Cycling Australia Awards

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Following a breakout year on the international BMX scene, Aussie teenager Saya Sakakibara has been named as the female BMX cyclist of the year at the Cycling Australia Awards in Melbourne today.

Standing alongside Sakakibara as the male BMX rider of the year was freestyle competitor Logan Martin. Martin received the men’s gong courtesy of gold medal performances at the 2018 World Cup and X-Games.

For Sakakibara, the rise to the top of world BMX has been short and sharp. Within a year of finishing her high school studies, she found herself rubbing shoulders with the likes of Olympic gold medallists and world champion BMX riders…and she comfortably held her own.

A gold medal at European Cup level in the early 2018 international season proved to be a precursor for the flair Sakakibara would show throughout the 2018 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup.

In rounds one and two of the world cup series in Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines in France, Sakakibara won bronze and silver medals respectively. Round four at Papendal in the Netherlands again saw the Illawarra-based rider on the podium, another third place.

Come the 2018 UCI BMX World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, she was again in the thick of the action. But an untimely incident with then reigning world champion Alise Willoughby of the USA, the wife of Australian 2012 Olympic BMX silver medallist Sam Willoughby, in the final ended Sakakibara’s medal hopes prematurely.

After celebrating her 19thbirthday, Sakakibara then travelled to Santiago del Estero in Argentina for the final two rounds of the world cup. Round seven saw her again in a tangle with an American rider, this time a spectacular incident with Brooke Crain.

However, the young Aussie returned the next day for the final round and claimed her first ever world cup gold. It’s a result that will undoubtedly be looked back on as a watershed moment in Sakakibara’s career.

As icing on the cake, Sakakibara ended 2018 in second place on the UCI rankings.

After being named the top Australian BMX athlete in Melbourne, Australia’s freshly minted BMX star said she was humbled to receive the award, following a year that had commenced with few expectations.

“It feels really amazing I’m so humbled to be here, it’s my first ever year racing as an elite. I was fresh on the elite scene and had no idea what to expect,” she told Cycling Australia media.

In the junior ranks, Kye Affoo was named as the junior male BMX rider of the year. Affoo carried the hopes for Australia in the junior men’s final at the 2018 UCI BMX World Cup when he stormed into the final and then claimed a fine sixth place.

Meanwhile, Sydney’s Ashlee Miller was the junior female BMX rider of the year, her standout moments coming as she won both the junior elite women’s 2018 UCI Oceania Continental BMX Championship and Australian National Championship within a handful of days of each other.

Also awarded at the event was The Sir Hubert ‘Oppy’ Opperman Medal and Trophy, the most prestigious perpetual award, which was presented to South Australia’s Rohan Dennis. It was his second time receiving the ‘Oppy Medal’. His victory in the 2018 men’s individual time trial world championship was his top moment of the year.

To see a full story from the event, click here.