The three W’s of BikeNZ’s BMX programme grabbed three medals at the UCI World Championships in Copenhagen today.
The 2009 world champion Sarah Walker and Pukekohe teenager Trent Woodcock won silver medals in the elite women and junior men while Marc Willers took out a bronze in the elite men.
With Woodcock picking up a silver medal in the first Time Trial Super Final, and eight riders qualifying for the elimination rounds this afternoon, it has provided a significant boost for the fledgling high performance programme under national coach Ken Cools.
For Willers it proved bitter-sweet in picking up his first world championship medal, because he had been the dominating figure today, winning all three qualifying motos, his quarterfinal and semifinal. He jumped superbly to be first into the first corner in the final, but over-jumped on the second straight allowing Frenchman Doris Daudet to slide underneath.
Willers struggled to regain speed with defending champion Maris Strombergs edging him for second.
“I basically didn’t make a mistake until it really counted,” said a disappointed Willers. “If there’s ever a race not to choke in it was that one. I over-jumped a little bit on the second straight and put a panic rev and started over-jumping everything.
“The positives were my gates were great and I was first to the first turn in every race. I guess I crumbled under the pressure when it counted and I certainly won’t be making that mistake again.
“If I had come out third and finished third I would be satisfied. But I know I had the winning of that final. There’s no blame on anyone else but myself and that s the hard thing to swallow right now.”
“I know it’s in there now. I know I can do the work to get there. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.”
Walker continued her remarkable consistency at the highest level winning her third silver medal to go with a bronze in 2008 and victory in 2009.
She also impressed out of the gate and her work on the first straightaway where she also led in all motos, and her semifinal, which proved her best effort of the day. She disposed of defending champion Shanaze Reade for the first time in a head-to-head battle. The Great Britain rider, who had announced her withdrawal to media on Monday, arrived on Wednesday to race, winning the Super Final Time Trial.
Drawn next to Walker on the gate in the semifinal, it was Reade who buckled under pressure and dropped off the back of the pack as the kiwi blasted out to win.
Colombia’s Mariana Pajon went neck- to-neck with Walker out of the gate in the final, taking advantage of her inside draw. The kiwi challenged hard but had to be content with second, which was good reward according to Walker.
“Going into this weekend the focus is on London and this is a stepping stone towards that. I hadn’t come in with the best preparation because of an injury and my expectation was to work on my gates and see how they were progressing.
“To come out of the gate and put half a length on the defending world champion was great and that’s the moment I am going to take away from this weekend.
“I know I wasn’t in the best shape coming in and I know there’s a lot still to work on and that’s really exciting considering the performance I have done this weekend.”
Woodcock, who has been racing professionally in the US this year, showed the benefit of that competition with a consistently strong effort throughout.
After winning his qualifying group, Woodcock was second behind Alfredo Campo (Ecuador) in the quarterfinal and semifinal. The pair jumped out together before the kiwi went wide on the first bend and dropped back to fourth. Woodcock fought back superbly and got within a wheel of the South American at the finish.
It proved a big step along the way for the towering Pukekohe rider who has big ambitions.
“I am happy with that. I wanted to stay relaxed and all the training I’ve done in the past was building up to this. All you think of are all the hard yards you have done to be here today so I am grateful for that.
“I was just trying to treat the final like every race back home on club night. I am just so rapt right now. It’s an another step towards that bigger goal of the Olympics.”
Woodcock’s podium effort has earned him addition to the elite team who head into camp in The Netherlands next week to prepare for next month’s Olympic test event in London.
Christchurch’s Daniel Franks and Gisborne’s Nic Fox qualified for their first ever semifinal in the elite junior grade while Tauranga’s Kurt Pickard was edged out by one spot in the quarterfinal after finishing second behind Willers and ahead of former world junior champion Sam Willoughby in his qualifying motos.
Tomorrow the focus goes back on the age group racers with the Cruiser class racing bringing the curtain down on the world championships.
Elite women, final: Mariana Pajon (COL) 1, Sarah Walker (NZL) 2, Magalie Pottier (FRA) 3. Semifinal 1: Walker 1, Pottier 2, Vilma Rimsaite (LTU) 3. Semifinal 2: Pajon 1, Lieke Klaus (NED) 2, Arielle Martin (USA) 3.
Qualifying: Victoria Hill (New Plymouth) 32.
Elite men, final: Joris Daudet (FRA) 1, Maris Strombergs (LAT) 2, Marc Willers (NZL) 3. Semifinal 1: Willers 1, Strombergs 2, Sam Willoughby (AUS) 3. Semifinal 2: Connor Fields (USA) 1, Daudet 2, Carlos Zabela (COL) 3.
Also: Kurt Pickard (quarterfinal 5th, qualifying 2nd)
Junior men, final: Alfredo Campo (ECU) 1, Trent Woodcock (NZL) 2, Antonin Dupire (FRA) 3. Semifinal 1: Darryn Goodwin (AUS) 1, Bodi Turner (AUS) 2, Igor Ferreira (BRA) 3. Semifinal 2: Campo 1, Woodcock 2, Dupire 3.
Also: Daniel Franks (NZL) semifinal 6th, Nic Fox semifinal 7th.
For further information contact:
Media Liaison, BikeNZ High Performance
Sports Media NZ Ltd
Tel +64 9 2327822
Mob +64 275613181