Gisborne teenager Monique Smith landed her first podium when she earned a silver medal at the UCI BMX World Championships in Copenhagen today.
The 16 year old produced a superb effort in the final, challenging American Felicia Stancil who claimed her ninth straight world number one honour today.
Smith was the only New Zealander to push through to the finals in the Challenge age group classes, bringing the overall tally to six with one gold, two silver and three bronze.
She drew the American in her moto, virtually dead-heating her in the opening moto and going on to be second overall. The final was a daunting process after drawing the unforgiving outside lane.
“I just wanted to stay on my bike. I wasn’t expecting anything. But I had a really great start. Usually I have the worst gates ever but this time it was awesome,” Smith said.“On the track I didn’t know what was happening around me. I just peddled as hard and as fast as I could. It was crazy.
“My initial goal was to make podium but once I saw the calibre of riders here then I was just happy to make the final. All the European riders here have such a high skill-level. This was the toughest world championship that I’ve been to.
“Just to make the final is awesome because you know you have worked hard to beat them.”
Smith will now eye a move into the elite classes.
“This is a good boost for me stepping up to junior elite next year. It’s great. It’s a pity the family couldn’t be here this worlds bit I know they will be proud.”
After an enterprising morning, with five riders through qualifying, four of them fell unexpectedly in the quarterfinals, leaving Smith to carry the flag.
North Harbour Ryan Berney (boys 15 years) and Te Awamutu’s Ryan Lewis (boys 16 years) were both unbeaten from their three qualifying motos with Donald Ross (Whangarei) in the 15 years boys and Cody Hobbs (Te Awamutu) in the 16 years boys also into the elimination rounds.
The weather was again settled today although the wind was stronger for the eliminations. Today’s racing was completed by mid-afternoon before the elites got their first look at the track with a one hour session for each of the elite men, junior men and elite women.
There’s a further practice session tomorrow morning with 25 minutes for each of the three classes ahead of the time trials which begin at 11am.
Day 2 New Zealand results:
Final, 16 years girls: Felicia Stancil (USA) 1, Monique Smith (NZL, Gisborne) 2, Melanie Grun (FRA) 3.
15 years boys: Donald Ross (Whangarei) 6th in quarterfinal; Ryan Berney (North Harbour) 5th in quarterfinal.
16 years boys: Cody Hobbs (Te Awamutu) 5th in quarterfinal; Ryan Lewis (Te Awamutu) 5th in quarterfinal.
16 years girls: Kayla Pene (Rotorua) 5th in qualifying.
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