Siblings Saya Sakakibara and Kai Sakakibara (NSW) and 2016 Olympic Games finalist Anthony Dean (SA) headline the Australian Cycling Team selections for the 2018 UCI BMX (Supercross) World Championships to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, in June.
It has been a dream start to Saya Sakakibara’s maiden season in the elite ranks with dual podium appearances at the opening two rounds of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Series, in addition to gold and silver at the European Cup.
“Being first year, I really had no expectations of my results and wasn’t sure how I would be riding, especially being thrown into the European and World Cup circuits,” explained Sakakibara, 18, who chose to focus on completing her final year of high school in 2017 rather than contest the international circuit.
“It was a big shock to be able to make it onto the podium in the first two rounds of the World Cup, and the podium in the European rounds as well.
“But my start to 2018 has built my confidence and I will definitely be taking this into Worlds. It has shown me I can be on the podium at every event,” added Sakakibara.
Like his sister Saya, Kai Sakakibara will be taking confidence into the World Championships following a solid off-season program at his Australian base and a full program of racing the World and European Cups which has netted a number of top ten finishes.
Kai also boasts an added advantage after completing a reconnaissance trip to Baku last week with Saya, Anthony Dean and Australian Cycling Team BMX Technical Director Wade Bootes for a test run of the World Championship course.
“2018 has been pretty good for me so far, I have been working on my strength and making alterations to my bike set up. I’m definitely in the best shape I’ve ever been in,” said Sakakibara, who grabbed a podium finish in the opening round of the European Cup in March.
“I’m aiming for a podium result at Worlds, but ultimately my goals are to produce my best possible result on the day by executing my own routine.”
Saya and Kai will now set their sights on fine-tuning their World Championship preparations at the next two UCI World Cup rounds in the Netherlands and Belgium in May.
Joining Dean and Sakakibara in the men’s team is 2018 national champion Brandon Te Hiko (VIC), Max Cairns (VIC), Shane Rosa (SA) and Andrew Hughes (NSW).
Two-time Olympian Lauren Reynolds (WA), reigning national champion Erin Lockwood (QLD), Sara Jones (QLD), and 2016 national champion Leanna Curtis (NSW) round out the elite women’s selections.
“We have selected a team that we believe has a mix of potential and performances,” said Simon Jones, Performance Director, Cycling Australia. “We are confident that we have the talent to challenge for podium performances in all disciplines.
“We wish all the riders the very best in Baku.”
The junior selections feature 2018 national champions Nathaniel Rodway (NSW) and Ashlee Miller (NSW), and Queenslanders Izaac Kennedy, Kye Affoo, Kyle Hill and Edan Whitlock.
Australia’s team will be joined in Baku by a further 89 “Challenge Class” riders who range from seven to 62 years of age.
The 2018 UCI BMX World Championships take place from June 5-9 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Australian Team for 2018 UCI BMX World Championships
For more information, visit the official Baku2018 website.