Meanwhile, Hayden Fletcher stormed to victory in a hotly contested men’s Superclass final!
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Women’s world number two Saya Sakakibara has kicked off 2019 with a convincing victory in round one of the Superclass BMX Australia BAD BOY National Series at Sydney Olympic Park, exemplifying why she is considered a strong chance to make her Olympic debut in Tokyo next year.
The 19-year-old Aussie had a breakout 2018, which included a gold medal performance at the eighth and final round of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Santiago del Estero, Argentina in October. On that day she beat home 2016 world champion and Rio Olympic silver medallist Alise Willoughby of the USA and current world champ and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Laura Smulders of the Netherlands.
Today, Sakakibara’s task was to overcome the challenges thrown down by 2016 Australian champion Leanna Curtis, as well as current national champion Erin Lockwood. Sakakibara managed just that, praising her ability to ride with a high level of commitment on a tough track as the reason behind her victory.
“That is definitely a really difficult track, especially with those really tight corners that come after straights where you pick up a lot of speed,” Sakakibara noted.
“I struggled a little bit in the motos with that, but I figured the trick is to be more committed around the corners rather than hesitant.”
Meanwhile a hotly contested men’s final saw Victorian Hayden Fletcher finish top of the results sheet, beating home fellow Victorian Max Cairns and South Australia’s Shane Rosa.
Amongst the field was Japanese rider Soma Hashimoto, who gave the Aussies a run for their money on his way to a valiant fifth. Conversely it was a tale of misfortune for world number eight Kai Sakakibara, who crashed out in the semi-finals. With the men’s competition being so fiercely contested, Fletcher praised the high level of competition in Australia.
“The men’s competition is incredibly tough right now, there are so many quick Australian riders. Everyone is riding hard, they want it badly,” Fletcher said.
“The racing right now, I feel is at its peak. It’s probably never been this good. The depth of talent, it’s good, you can’t pick a final anymore, you don’t know who is going to make it.”
The second round of Superclass racing at the 2019 BMXA BAD BOY National Series continues tomorrow, Sunday February 17, at Sydney Olympic Park. Also taking to the track will be hundreds of age group riders vying for a spot in their respective finals.
Action commences at 9:45am AEDT, with finals scheduled for 12pm AEDT.