Illawarra duo Leanna Curtis and Kai Sakakibara have claimed breakthrough wins at the 2017 Oceania BMX Championships, a major selection event for the BMX world championships in Bathurst, NSW today. It was a day of…
Illawarra duo Leanna Curtis and Kai Sakakibara have claimed breakthrough wins at the 2017 Oceania BMX Championships, a major selection event for the BMX world championships in Bathurst, NSW today.
It was a day of double joy for Sakakibara, as younger sister Saya also won to claim her second straight junior elite women’s Oceania title. New Zealand’s Maynard Peel claimed the junior men’s title, continuing his strong run of form in Bathurst after winning the junior men’s Probikx UCI event yesterday.
Less than 24 hours after Curtis finished second in the elite women’s Probikx event to New Zealand dual Olympian Sarah Walker, the reigning Australian women’s champion backed herself on the testing Bathurst track to claim her first international title.
The win is also the first for Curtis in 2017, the victory coming at an opportune time with April’s Australian national championships on the horizon. Despite claiming top spot, Curtis said that she is still struggling with her starts.
“It was good to finally get that win out of the way, I am really hurting now,” Curtis gasped.
“I had a pretty ordinary start, but luckily I feel very confident on this track and I was able to come through. With my starts I am still struggling to get my body and legs throwing forward at the same time. Once that happens I will be back on top of them, so I will work on it again tomorrow.
“Today we started off the eight metre hill, which suits me a little better. The girls I am racing have a bit more power than me down the flat, but the bigger start hill is a bit more about confidence and skills and that was my advantage.”
Meanwhile Kai Sakakibara has seen more than two years of hard work come to fruition, beating home Australian national series leader Matthew Juster to win the open men’s Oceania title, his first ever victory as an elite male competitor.
“My first win in the elite class, I am really excited! Sakakibara beamed.
“This is huge for me.
“I guess it’s the same for every athlete stepping into that open stage of racing, getting that first win is the hardest thing to do. It has taken me almost two and a half years. I am very happy to finally get it.
“While this is great, I have always looked at things long term. I try and win every race I am in, but I am really focusing on the 2020 Olympic Games and I would love to be able to ride there with my sister. There are big goals that I am working towards.”
While Sakakibara might be dreaming of representing Australia at the Olympic Games alongside his younger sister, Saya Sakaibara was busy putting together yet another victory at the Bathurst track, telling of her increased confidence with every lap she leads.
“It’s really good to be in the lead, it always brings my confidence up and it helps me prove to myself that I can win,” she said.
Meanwhile in the junior men’s event it was again a show of dominance from rising Kiwi athlete Peel. Yesterday the young star declared that he would like to claim a clean sweep across the weekend, and now with two wins for the weekend all that remains on his shopping list is tomorrow’s BMX Australian Grands Assault National Series.
However the day wasn’t just about the elites, with riders as young as five-years-old taking a slice of the action in Bathurst to the rapturous applause of the crowd. The event is an important stepping-stone in their development as the future stars of the sport.
In other results Fraser Vaughan won the 8-years boy’s title from Max Castle, while Cameron Gatt won the 9-years boy’s event. Vada Botfield topped the list in the 9-years girls, fellow Queenslander Portia Eden first home in the 10-years-girls. Lake Macquarie BMX Club’s Miller Ruks claimed the 10-years boy’s event.
Cooper Fox gave Southlake Illawarra BMX Club more to cheer about as he joined Curtis and the Sakakibara’s as an Oceania champion, winning the 11-years boy’s event.
Pine Rivers BMX Club rider Thomas Tucker sealed two Oceania titles today, winning the 12-years boy’s and the 12 and under boy’s cruiser title. Meanwhile young New Zealand rider Leila Walker won the 12-years girl’s event.
Like Tucker, Kiwi rider Karepa Heke Kaiawha enjoyed two wins, coming in the 13-boy’s and 13-14 boy’s cruiser classes. Compatriot Megan Williams won the 13-years girl’s title. The joy continued for New Zealand when Bennet Greenough won the 14-boys event, but the Aussies struck back with a win for Shannon Petre in the corresponding girls event.
In the 15-years events Australia’s Corey Taylor won the boy’s class, while New Zealander Ella Hansen was too good in the girl’s. Kiwi Cailen Calkin won the boy’s 16-yearsrace, and Aussie Lorsyn Affoo the girl’s. In doing so Calkin added to his victory in last night’s Chambikx UCI series, Affoo bettering yesterday’s second place result.
Nathan Seal was the man of the moment on the 17-24 men, while flying Kiwi Toni James won the 25 and over women’s race as well as the 17-29 women’s cruiser race. Dirk Winter added to his win last night with the 35 and over men’s Oceania title, while New Zealand’s Daniel Bowers-Wilson won the men’s 30-34 class. Sydneysider Michael Carruthers won the men’s 40-44 competition.
The final day of action at Bathurst BMX track will continue at 9.45am EDT tomorrow with the BMX Australia Grands Assault National Series.
You can view today’s full results by CLICKING HERE.