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New Zealand rider Sarah Walker is confident of another medal on the final day of the UCI BMX World Championships in China tonight (NZ time).
The 20-year-old BikeNZ rider grabbed a bronze medal in yesterday’s BMX Championships to add to the silver medal she won last year to establish her as a real prospect for Beijing in August when the sport makes its Olympic debut.
Tonight she defends her world title in the cruiser class, the non-Olympic division for the bigger 610mm diameter wheel, at Taiyuan buoyed by her performance yesterday.
It was not such good news for compatriot Marc Willers (Cambridge) who crashed out in the quarterfinal after challenging for third place.
Walker finished third behind defending champion Shanaze Reade (GBR) and Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA) in the final last night.
The Kawerau rider, who drew the middle of the front line on the grid, had to recover after a tussle with Chausson out of the gate.
“I went elbow to elbow with Anne-Caroline down the first straight which, unfortunately, caused me to have to pump the whole first straight which isn’t the fastest way,” Walker said. “I was still up in about third or fourth to the first corner but I got pushed wide and came out in fifth with not much speed.”
As Reade and Chausson went clear, Walker worked hard to make ground but as she flew into the challenging third straight two French riders came down in front of her.
“I had to swerve around them. I succeeded in missing the bodies but ran over the middle of one of the wheels. I thought I was going to fall off but came out still on my bike. However while I slowed down it let Samantha Cools, the sister of our coach Ken Cools, jump up to third.
“I got a good run around the last corner and managed to just get past her for third place. Overall I was happy with my gates and my result and I know a few more things to train on for the Olympics.”
She drew Reade in every race, beating her in one of the three qualifying motos and was second in the other two to the English star before again finishing behind her in the quarterfinal. Walker cruised through the semifinal in third place behind Reade and Chausson and it proved the same finishing order in the final.
“I am pretty confident for the cruiser class and will hopefully it will be another good result.”
Willers had to recover from a crash in his qualifying run with a brilliant win in the final moto to qualify third into the quarterfinals. However he hit the starting gate in his quarterfinal and was forced to play catch-up, making a daring manoeuvre around the first corner to challenge for third.
“However his tyres couldn’t hold him and he went straight into another rider and crashed,” BikeNZ national coach Ken Cools said.
“His day was over. It was very disappointing as he was flying this weekend and could have produced a great result in the final, but that’s racing.
“This is just going to motivate him even more over the next few months to get ready for Beijing, he will have his day, mark my word.”
Cools was impressed with the performance of BikeNZ high performance rider Victoria Hill (New Plymouth) who finished fifth in the junior women’s elite final.
“She pulled off a great finish with a solid fifth. I will get to work with her one on one this year and work to improve on a few things to help her reach the top.”
UCI BMX World Championships, Taiyuan, China – Olympic class:
Elite men: Maris Strombergs (LAT ) 36.091, 1; Steven Cisar (USA) 36.475, 2; Sifiso Nhlapo (RSA) 36.705, 3.
Elite women: Shanaze Reade (GBR) 40.392, 1; Ann-Caroline Chausson (FRA) 41.265, 2; Sarah Walker (NZL) 44.050, 3.
Junior women: Manon Valentino (FRA) 44.631, 1; Lauren Reynolds (AUS) 45.166, 2; Rachel Bracken (AUS) 45.353, 3. Victoria Hill (NZL) 45.823, 5.
Sarah, you are beautifull!, I saw your race yesterday,
You have a very nice face, and an incredible smile.
I wish you the best!