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Quartet win title again, Cameron overcomes injury

The first official day of the 2017 BMX Australia National Championships saw hundreds of riders take to the track at the Sleeman Sports Centre for the chance to become national champion in cruiser and retro events.

Four riders retained their 1A plates by again winning the title they won in 2016 – Victorians Robert Slatter (35-39yrs men’s cruiser) and Jaclyn Wilson (40-44yrs women’s cruiser), Western Australian Corey Taylor in the boy’s 15-16 cruiser and Queenslander Darren James in the men’s retro over 40’s event.

For Slatter and Wilson there was extra cause for celebration, the pair making it three straight national titles in their respective events.

Of the riders to back up their win from last season, teenager Taylor (pictured below) seemed the most surprised but was already brimming with confidence for his championship event on the weekend.

“That was good to do it for the second year in a row, it really is pretty good,” Taylor puffed.

“There’s a lot of tough riders and I really needed to put it together.

“I’ve got a bit of confidence now for Saturday and hopefully I can put it together for that race.”

In the women’s 45-49 years cruiser event, the evergreen Sandy Cameron (pictured below) overcame a horror six months of injury to win back the national title she last won in 2015.

Cameron was over the moon with her performance, revealing she came into the event underdone.

“I’m stoked, it was a tough race,” Cameron, who was second in the same event in Bathurst last year said.

The 48-year-old said she would now turn her attention to the world championships where she finished with the W7 plate in 2016.

“I can only improve, I had a few smashed bones in the last couple of months so I can only get into training and improve if I can stay upright,” she said.

“I broke my wrist in November and my two hands in January so it is a big win, especially with these young ones coming up from the previous age class. They are young and fit and they have done a heck of a lot more riding than me. I’ve only been in the sport six years.”

Perhaps Australian BMX’s most in form rider, Dirk Winter, was at it again, taking out the 25-29yrs men’s cruiser event to go with an undefeated eight-event National Series season.

On what was a stunning autumn day, the cruiser and retro classes were joined by more than a hundred sprockets competed in the 5-7 girl’s, the 5-6 boy’s and 7yrs boy’s categories. All sprockets received equal participation awards at the Sprocket presentation.

Action at the 2017 BMXA Nationals continues on Friday with challenge classes before the championship classes ride for gold on Saturday, including Olympians Anthony Dean, Bodi Turner, Lauren Reynolds and Caroline Buchanan.

Bell tolls for Bella double act

The morning session on day two of the 2017 BMX Australia National Championships delivered some thrilling racing at the Sleeman Sports Centre, none more so than the battle between Isabella Schramm and Bella May (pictured, Schramm on left, May on right) in the 12yrs girl’s final.

For the second year in a row the pair battled it out for the 1A plate and this time May reversed the score, winning the national title over defending champion Schramm by just 9/1000’s of a second.

World number 1 and perennial national champion Thomas Tucker again proved too strong for his rivals in the 12yrs boy’s event, adding another gold to the 1A plate he won yesterday in the cruiser event.

Tucker was joined as a two-time winner this week by Greg Clift (30-34 men’s), Jaclyn Wilson (40-44 women) and Luke Barnes (40-44 men), who all claimed cruiser titles on Thursday.

Wilson (pictured below) was glowing after her double win, beating a serious ankle injury to claim a pair of 1A plates.

“Absolutely over the moon because I didn’t get to ride a lot last year,” Wilson said.

“I had a few things going on so this is just my third race since nationals last year so I am so happy to win.

“I didn’t do a lot (of training) last year but I’ve been really training the last six weeks.

“I injured myself really badly in January, had a bad crash and did ligaments and tendons in my ankle and that took ten weeks to get over so I’ve really only had a little while to prepare for this.”

For Clift (below), it was the first time in his career he has achieved the cruiser / challenge class double.

“I’m extremely happy, it’s something I’ve never been able to achieve so far,” Clift said.

“I won a national title when I was really young and a cruiser title a couple of years ago but never the double.”

The battle between the two Bellas was the highlight of the morning though.

Their race was so close, even minutes after they had finished, neither rider had any idea who had won.

One thing was clear however – they loved racing each other.

“It’s good to race each other each year because it’s really competitive and fast,” Schramm said.

“And we’ve got the same name. That’s even better.”

May, a youngster of few words, said the pair’s burgeoning rivalry was ‘challenging’. When the final result did come through, May had just one thing to say. Just one word. “Awesome!”

Another highlight of the morning was Shae Archibold’s win in the 11yrs girl’s event where she snuck away and proved too hard to catch for W2 Sacha Mills. The result reversed that of 2016 when Archibold finished second to Mills.

Block two this afternoon will conclude the challenge classes. Racing at the 2017 BMXA Nationals continues tomorrow with the championship classes, including Olympians Anthony Dean, Bodi Turner, Lauren Reynolds and Caroline Buchanan in the elite classes.

Mixed afternoon for top riders

One world champion won back his national title, another W1 crashed out on the final berm, a W2 was upstaged by two rivals and three youngsters claimed back-to-back 1A plates in a thrilling session of racing.

Jasmine Standish (9yrs girl’s), Callum Woodbury (10yrs boy’s, pictured below) and Kira Hill (13yrs girl’s) all kept their hands on the prestigious 1A plate awarded to the national champion with dominant displays throughout the day and confident rides in the finals of their respective divisions.

Perhaps the most excited, and stunned winner of the day was one who most people expected to win.

Tyson Kenny calls Sleeman his home track and entered the 13yrs boy’s event as the reigning world champion. He last won the national title on the same track two years ago. After winning, an elated Kenny collapsed to the ground, part in shock, part in pure joy. He looked more excited than when he had won the world title in Medellin.

“I mean, to come back to your home track and…and…I’m really just speechless,” Kenny said.

“I didn’t get the best semi and I got a bit squeezed out and didn’t get the best (lane) pick for my final but I guess it was just my day. I’ve trained very hard for this. I’m just very happy. It just feels amazing.”

By contrast, Hill, was so laid back after her win you’d think she had just won an infants school egg and spoon race rather than a second consecutive Aussie crown.

“I am stoked – I love the competition the girls have,” Hill said. “It’s good to race them all and the friends that I have here.”

In other events, ultra-competitive 9yrs boy’s race saw last year’s Australian and world champion Bailey Mills relegated to third after stunning performances by Cameron Gatt and Tama Onekawa. The same trio had shared the dais in 2016 with Mills ahead of Onekawa and Gatt.

The 10yrs girl’s event saw Imogen Healy (rider 51 below, pictured on the first bend) score a great victory after a close battle with W1 Portia Eden until Eden came off the bike on the last turn.

In the 45-49yrs women’s event Sandy Cameron added to the title she won yesterday in the cruiser event, while Dean Patch won the men’s 45-49 final.

Racing at the 2017 BMXA Nationals continues on Saturday with the championship classes, including the elite classes featuring Olympians Anthony Dean, Bodi Turner, Lauren Reynolds and Caroline Buchanan.