The youngest World Champions in any sport were found at the UCI BMX World Championships at Vector Arena, Auckland this morning.
Benaiah Richards of Australia took the 5 and 6 year old boys’ class, in his third season in the sport, having started out as a four year old.
Auckland’s Mountain Raiders Club rider Sacha Earnest was the youngest female victor in the girls 5 to 7 years’ division.
Seven titles were decided in classes up to the nine year olds, where three of the champions were already repeating previous success.
Kjelle Poets from Lommel in northern Belgium completed a trifecta in the nine year girls, having won the title the previous two years at Birmingham and Copenhagen.
And local crowd favourite Lachlan Stevens McNabb from Rotorua took his third title in the 9 year boys after a head to head tussle with defending champion Connor Defrain from the USA.
The pair raced shoulder to shoulder down the first two straights, but Defrain slightly miscued a jump on the third straight and McNabb edged ahead to win.
“I really wanted that after Connor beat me last year,” said McNabb, who had previously won as a six and seven year old in South Africa and Copenhagen respectively.
American Dane Morales repeated his success of last year in the seven boys.
Leila Walker from Cambridge took the eight year girl’s honours from defending champion Grace Stevenson of the USA. Walker had set her sights on the World 1 plate after winning the national title on her home track at Easter.
She has a simple long term goal – “When I grow up I want to go to the Olympics.”
Thomas Tucker from Brisbane bagged Australia’s second title of the session when he took out the eight year boys after his only previous trip to the World Champs had resulted in elimination in the semi-finals.
The championships continue into the weekend with time trial events for the Elite Men and Women and the Junior (17 and 18 year olds) Men and Women from 1pm on Saturday, with racing for all four classes on Sunday from 10am.
Tomorrow (Friday) the track will be converted from its current set up as used by all the challenge classes, to an 8 metres high start gate and bigger jumps for the elite competition.