Australian national champions Saya Sakakibara and Izaac Kennedy battled hard for bronze in the second round of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup in Glasgow.
Ten Australians raced at the first two World Cup rounds of the year and it was just Sakakibara representing Australia in the women’s elite.
The Tokyo Olympian placed fifth in the first round on Saturday before backing that up in the second round with a third placed finish. In the final, the Southlake/Illawarra BMX club rider started from gate eight and was the quickest down the hill alongside Bethany Shriever of Great Britain. Dutch rider Judy Baauw pushed Sakakibara all the way to the line, but the national champion held out for third.
“Honestly, I just feel shocked,” Sakakibara said after the race.
“A combination of relief, shock and pride.... I didn’t expect to get a podium this weekend, I came here to learn and grow so that I did not have to put pressure on myself.”
Sakakibara has been on a long journey back to full fitness and believes despite the podium, she is not at her peak yet.
“I feel as though I’m not at my peak yet, which is good as it means I see more growth in the coming months ahead of the next World Cup rounds and in the lead up to the World Championships in July,” she said.
In the men’s elite, Kennedy placed third in one of the craziest World Cup finals to date. The Nerang BMX rider qualified third for the final and had a slow start from lane three.
This turned out to be a blessing as four of the eight riders crashed on the first berm opening up the race. Kennedy fought his way to second and was on track for silver before crashing on the final straight.
The national champion still managed to pick himself up and push himself over the finish line to place third in one of the more chaotic World Cup finals. Fortunately, no major injuries ahead of a busy period for BMX racing.
“I felt good coming in the final for the win,” Kennedy said.
“I messed up my start and had to fight back from there, got myself into third into the first turn and grabbed second on the straight.
“I thought to just settle it for a second, but I wanted to leave it all out there so in the last straight I just sent it and it didn’t work out for me.
“I was still able to get up and roll over for third, a crazy way to get a World Cup podium but I’m happy with how I rode and glad I know I went for it and won’t die wondering.”
Around the grounds, Olympian Bodi Turner was consistent all weekend, making back-to-back semi finals in Glasgow, a positive result for the Oceania champion.
Jack Davis in the men under 23 had a strong Saturday, narrowly missing out on the main in round one.
The series now heads to Papendal, the Netherlands, for rounds three and four on the weekend of June 11-12. Full results from this weekend can be found here.