Sakakibara dominates BMX in Perth
5 March 2019
CYCLING - BMX: World number eight Kai Sakakibara dominated elite UCI finals on the second day of stage 2 at the BMX Australia BAD BOY National Series at Westside BMX Club.
Sakakibara was joined on the track by more than 300 competitors in categories for riders as young as five, all the way up to the 50+ age class.
The victory carried greater significance than just the winner’s cheque and the series points.
As an official UCI (cycling’s international governing body) endorsed event, the event offered riders the ability to win Olympic qualification points, that in turn can earn quota spots for Australia for the Olympics in Tokyo next year.
The more spots a nation qualifies, the greater chance riders have of winning their way to the Games.
For Sakakibara, the victory capped a perfect weekend from a results standpoint with the 22-year-old winning all eight races he contested on Saturday and Sunday, but the notoriously hard marker was still looking for improvement.
“I’m stoked to come away with the win but I was actually slightly kind of kicking myself when I crossed the (finish) line because I messed up the start,” he said.
“For me today, my personal goal was to execute the best (I could) and just have clean runs all the way through. I messed up the gate a little bit in the third moto and again in the final and that wasn’t really part of my plan.
“I was actually a little bit angry about that but again to come away with the win, I’m very happy.”
The Southlake/Illawarra BMX Club (NSW) rider said the fact Olympic qualifying points were on the line elevated the standard of racing.
“It was really fast paced racing all the way through and obviously a little bit more on the line for me and a few of the other guys in particular, especially when we are aiming for Olympic points and our overall UCI ranking as well,” he said.
Rio 2016 Olympian Bodi Turner placed fourth in the final while Bradley Game, from Perth club Wanneroo, was the top local finisher, ending an exciting final in sixth.
South Australian Matthew Tidswell was brilliant winning the junior elite men’s race from Western Australian Corey Taylor and NSW’s Oliver Moran.
New Zealand's Rebecca Petch clean swept the elite women’s event, which was combined with the junior elite race and decided on points accumulated in the three motos rather than a final, and said consistency was key on the day.
“We had three races with the points carried over so I was trying to keep it consistent through every race and just trying to recover as much as I could after every race and deal with the heat,” Petch said.
NSW’s 2016 elite national champion Leanna Curtis was second, with South Australian Annaliese Rokov third.
Prodigious Queenslander Des’Ree Barnes won the junior elite event and was third overall in the combined motos with the senior riders. Second place in the juniors was Kiana Botfield (QLD) and Leah Hearne (NSW).
The next stage of the BMX Australia BAD BOY National Series will take place at Ipswich West Moreton BMX Club on April 13-14.
The stage will feature the challenge and superclass divisions on the Saturday, as well as the UCI elite and junior elite events alongside the challenge finals on the Sunday.