Australian Tokyo Olympic hopeful Kai Sakakibara has finished fourth in the final round of the 2019 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup at Santiago Del Estero, Argentina.
Competing in just his second world cup final for the year, the rider from Helensburgh in NSW delivered an impressive display of racing as he lined up on the gate against the best in the world.
His other world cup final this year was in Papendal, the Netherlands where he also placed fourth, narrowly missing out on his first ever world cup podium.
I had a really rough weekend in Rock Hill for the last world cup rounds so I really wanted to redeem myself this weekend,” Sakakibara said.
“Turning up here I was feeling great. Practice was going well and was happy to carry my momentum on from round six yesterday.
“Racing was so tight today, but I just rode well and consistent and had some really goods starts. I didn’t let who I was riding or what lane I was coming out of me bother me.
“Ended up in the final and I was able to make some good moves to get past Corben Sharrah and finish fourth. Aside from a bad start, it was a great race and a great weekend.
“I was so happy to finish the year with a final and I’m really looking forward to putting some training in to make sure I find the podium for the first rounds in Australia next year.”
While Kai had his day, his younger sister Saya, who is another with designs on being in Tokyo next year, couldn’t replicate her gold medal performance from the same venue last year and finished in the semis.
The Rio Olympic duo of Anthony Dean and Lauren Reynolds were on track to add another world cup final to their lists, yet it wasn’t to be with Dean eliminated in the semi-finals, while Reynolds ended in the ¼ finals.
The men’s event was won by consistent Dutch superstar Niek Kimmann, with Switzerland’s David Graf in second and Argentina’s Gonzalo Molino in third.
On the women’s ledger, Kimmann was joined by fellow Dutch powerhouse Laura Smulders who claimed her nineteenth gold medal and her second in as many days. Joining her on the podium was Russia’s Natalia Afremova and USA’s Felicia Stancil.
With the conclusion of the 2019 world cup, the official winners of the series have been confirmed and both trophies have returned to the defending champions of Kimmann and Smulders.
All eyes now turn to 2020 where Australia will play host to four rounds of the world cup between Shepparton, Victoria and Bathurst, NSW before all attention turns to Tokyo.
Kai Sakakibara: FOURTH
Saya Sakakibara: 9th semi-final
Anthony Dean: 16th semi-final
Lauren Reynolds: 17th 1/4 finals
Joshua McLean: 60th 1/8 finals
Adam Carey: 85th Last Chance
Top 3 world cup standings for women’s and men’s