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Aussie BMX season opener the first test for rising star Sakakibara

BMX Australia Press release

Prodigious rider Saya Sakakibara is set to kick off her year at round one of the BMX Australia National Series at the Penrith BMX Club this weekend, and it’s set to be the first chapter in a huge year on the track for the newly minted open class rider.

Australia’s premier BMX competition begins at the Western Sydney club this weekend and along with Sakakibara, more than 600 riders of all ages from around Australia will line up on the start gate.

Success isn’t foreign to Sakakibara, who is a multiple Aussie junior champion and age group world champion. But finding it in 2018 will be a whole new ballgame as she moves into the elite racing ranks.

The step up to the world’s toughest category will pit her against the likes of multiple Australian Olympians Caroline Buchanan and Lauren Reynolds, world champion Alise Post of the USA and defending Olympic gold medallist Mariana Pajon of Columbia. But ahead of the Aussie season opener, Illawarra product Sakakibara isn’t fazed by any of that.

“It’s a big jump coming into the elite class this year,” Sakakibara said.

“I’m not looking at treating it like anything too major. I’ll be competing at home and in some world cup rounds, USA BMX rounds. But competing against Alise Post, Brooke Crane (USA), Laura Smulders (NED) won’t be too much of a change. I will focus on myself, and ride the best I can, just like any competitive rider.”

While the world awaits Sakakibara this season, her immediate objective will be winning in Penrith on Sunday…and there will be no shortage of competitors hoping to beat the rider considered one of our best talents.

“I’m really excited for this weekend, and the track at Penrith is quite technical. The second straight is quite fun and exciting, and I am keen to try some new lines,” she continued.

“Like every other year I will need to step up my game to beat riders like Sara Jones (QLD) who I’ve had a rivalry with since I was eight-years old. She is always training hard, and I keep in the back of my mind how much I need to work for it against her.”

It won’t just be the elite women’s race that will be one to watch this weekend, so too will the elite men’s race with 32 riders – including a handful from overseas – gearing up to race.

The favourite will be reigning Australian men’s champion Kai Sakakibara – older brother of Saya – but his task will be made more difficult with the likes of Max Cairns, who has been cutting his teeth on the USA scene recently, Brandon Te Hiko of Victoria and two-time Aussie champion Corey Frieswyk also lining up on the gate.

Riders aged five and under, right though to 50-plus will be lining up across the weekend, emphasising BMX as one of Australia’s most inclusive sporting activities for people of all ages.

In total there will be seven rounds of the 2018 BMXA National Series, beginning in Penrith this weekend before moving to Frankston, Victoria in April, Darwin in June and the Gold Coast in July. From there racing will head to Adelaide in August, Canberra in September and finish in Launceston in October.

Across the weekend highlights of all racing will be available online at the BMX Australia website and social media channels, with a VNR available to media on both Saturday and Sunday after racing.

About BMX Australia

BMX Australia is recognised by the Australia Sports Commission as the National Sporting Organisation for BMX racing and Freestyle BMX within Australia.

BMX Australia is the second largest BMX nation behind the United States and is an organisation with 17,000 members from the age of 2 years – 80 years. There are 8 Members Associations and 120 member clubs across the country.

BMX Australia exists to provide Australians with the opportunity to compete in BMX from junior levels through to elite competition, including the National Series, National Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games. It is responsible for delivering these benefits to Australian BMX riders in collaboration with the Members States and Territories.

BMX Australia’s vision “to lead Australian Sport through successful partnerships, participation growth and performance excellence” ensures that we strive to success, building a strong and positive public profile and continue to develop high quality athletes, coaches and officials at all levels of our sport.

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