UCI BMX World Championships: Juniors from UCI WCC training camp on podium
In the three months leading up to the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships in Rock Hill (USA) last weekend, 11 junior athletes trained at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland.
Nearly all had been selected after a talent identification camp held at the end of 2016, and they arrived at the UCI WCC at the beginning of May with the aim of peaking for the Junior Elite Competition at Rock Hill.
All eleven of them competed last weekend in the USA, and proved that three months of solid training in Aigle had paid its dividends: Latvian Vineta Petersone won the bronze medal in the Junior Women’s final while fellow Latvian Mikus Strazdins achieved the same in the Junior Men’s competition. Another UCI WCC trainee, Sae Hatakeyama, of Japan, also made the Junior Women’s final and finished in fifth place.
During their training at the UCI WCC, they were coached by South African Tyrone Johns: “I am very happy with the results of the training camp and our trip to Rock Hill,” he said. “I could see all our athletes had raised their game and gave their best. Some have really shown a huge improvement over the past three months and they will continue to grow and get stronger.”
Bronze medal on a borrowed bike
He commended Petersone for overcoming the stress of a lost bike and luggage during the trip to Rock Hill, and finding the mental strength to improve throughout the qualifying races: “She had a bad start to the Worlds, and a horrible first practice but then just went from strength to strength,” he said.
“I can’t even explain how happy I am,” said the young athlete, who last year did not get past the semi-finals. “It’s not just the medal or the place on the podium but the story behind it and what I went through to even compete… on a borrowed bike!”
Petersone added that she had improved her skills and strength every day while training at the UCI WCC where there were no outside distractions and she could remain 100% focused on her sport: “The facility is incredible and our daily routine was great. I had lots of things to improve and I had everything I needed to work on my goals.”
As for the Junior Men’s race, Tyrone Johns said that Strazdins’ bronze medal confirmed the young rider’s solid performances throughout the summer: “He is a fantastic racer, and was ticking off the motos, quarters and semi-finals. He had a chance to race for the rainbow stripes, and raced as hard as he could but had to settle on the day for a very respectable World 3 in Junior Men.
He added: “BMX is a cruel but kind sport, and you need a bit of everything to go your way to get results. I am very proud of the athletes’ performances in Rock Hill and I look forward to seeing them develop even further in the future.”
Of the eleven UCI WCC trainees from eight countries competing at the UCI BMX World Championships, four went through to the quarter-finals, and three to the finals.