FROM THE FRONT Five boys on bikes take on world’s best

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By CHE BAKER

They may look too lit­tle to be tak­ing on the world but that’s ex­actly what five boys rep­re­sent­ing Alexan­dra will be do­ing this week. Mem­bers of the Alexan­dra BMX Club have made their way to Auck­land to com­pete for the New Zealand team at the ICU BMX World Cham­pi­onships. The team con­sists of Ben James, 7, Dun­can Suther­land, 12, and Lachie James, 9, Josh Smith, 13, and Fletcher Shar­man, 14. Shar­man, who is orig­i­nally from Cen­tral Otago and now based in Townsville, Aus­tralia, qual­i­fied for the event for both the New Zealand and Aus­tralian teams and chose to stick with his roots and rep­re­sent New Zealand. Daniel McEl­hin­ney, of Alexan­dra, will also be rep­re­sent­ing the team in the over-30 age group. Club pres­i­dent Steve Adair said the team will have some stiff com­pe­ti­tion as they com­pete against the best rid­ers from across the globe. It was the first time New Zealand had hosted the event and the club would be well rep­re­sented at the com­pe­ti­tion for a small club, Mr Adair said. With Ben ranked num­ber one in the South Is­land for his age group and Dun­can ranked sec­ond, there was po­ten­tial of the team bring­ing home a world ti­tle. The youngest rid­ers at the event will be five years old and the old­est will be 73 year old Tony Rika, of Hamil­ton. About 800 age group rid­ers from clubs around the coun­try will make up the largest chunk of the 2000 com­peti­tors at the com­pe­ti­tion, which has at­tracted in­ter­est from 30 coun­tries. It was also ex­pected to lure about 28,0000 spec­ta­tors. The Alex rid­ers usu­ally trained up to six times a week but heavy rain in June dis­rupted prac­tice as the track was too wet. While the boys said they were ex­cited, the thought of crash­ing dur­ing the race and hav­ing a bad start meant they were also ner­vous. The team has spent the past two days be­com­ing fa­mil­iar with the track, which has been es­pe­cially built at Auck­land’s Vec­tor Arena by the same com­pany which con­structed the Lon­don Olympic track. The start-stud­ded line-up at the event will in­clude New Zealand BMX star Sarah Walker, who was the Lon­don Olympic sil­ver medal­list and 2009 World Cham­pion, and dou­ble olympic gold medal­list Maris Strombergs, from Latvia, who was con­sid­ered the sport’s big­gest name. Walker, who has her arm in a brace af­ter frac­tur­ing her ra­dius in a crash rac­ing in the United States, was de­ter­mined to com­pete in the event. ‘‘If it was not in New Zealand then I would prob­a­bly con­sider skip­ping it be­cause of the in­jury,’’ she said. The com­pe­ti­tion wraps up on Sun­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.