BMX rider on a roll at world championship
Te Awamutu rider Rebecca Petch continued her meteoric rise up the elite women’s pecking order, finishing 11th overall at the UCI BMX World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The 19 year old improved four spots on her 15th placing when making an elite debut appearance last year in Rockhill, South Carolina.
The national champion qualified with two seconds and a third placing in her motos, then placed fourth in her quarter-final and sixth (just behind her New Zealand team mate Sarah Walker) in the semi-final to finish 11th overall.
“I’m heading in the right direction, it’s onwards and upwards from here,” said Petch on her return home.
“The level of competition was certainly up a notch this year. Everyone is getting better.
“I’m rapt with the way I performed both prior to and at the worlds.”
The UCI ninth ranked rider in the world went into the world champs fresh from making the final at the World Cup meeting in Belgium in May. She ended up finishing seventh in her first World Cup final.
A week later Petch made the podium twice in the one weekend at the Euro Cup round Blegny in Belgium.
“It’s the best prepared I have ever been in, both physically and mentally, going into a World championship,” said Petch.
“The fact that I had no injuries to worry about gave me confidence on the bike, allowing me to concentrate solely on the racing.”
Petch said the last seven weeks in Europe have been amazing.
“I truly have been living the dream, but none of this would of been possible without the support of my sponsors, mum and dad and all my family and friends back home.”
She will now take a week off to freshen up before doing ‘testing’ with her coach, Matt Cameron.
Her next major assignment is the Argentina World Cup round in September which has Olympic qualifying points up for grabs.
“I will be fronting at as many World Cup rounds as physically possible in my quest to gain Olympic selection for Tokyo 2020,” said Petch.
“I am on the right track, I’ve just got to keep working hard.”
New Zealand must be among the top five BMX countries in the world for New Zealand to be eligible to select two elite women for Tokyo, and Petch and Walker are doing everything in their powers to make this happen.
Teammate Cody Hobbs (Te Awamutu), the national champion, did not progress past the qualifying phase. He had the misfortune to crash in his first and third motos, resulting in two seventh placings and a DNF.
Te Awamutu riders Abbie Osborn and Cooper Merito excelled in their respective 15 year girls’ and boys’ Challenge (age group) classes.
Osborn showed her world class capabilities placing fifth, third and first in motos, qualifying for the semi-final where she placed sixth — only the top four progress to the final.
Merito was equally impressive in the motos, recording a brace of third placings and a second, qualifying for the first round elimination. He exited at that stage after placing sixth, not helped by slipping in the corner.