Fans will get their first chance to see the best BMX riders on the planet when Auckland hosts the 2013 UCI BMX World Championships on 24-28 July.
Tickets go on sale to the public worldwide from today for the week-long championships to be held indoors at Vector Arena on the Auckland waterfront.
New Zealand star Sarah Walker said she can’t wait to compete at home for the first time and believes the sport will be showcased spectacularly at Vector Arena.
“All of our lives we have had to travel around the world to compete at the Olympics and the World Championships. It is going to be unreal to finally be able to race here at home in front of our family, friends and sponsors,” Walker said.
“I know all the New Zealand team will be really excited to race at home, not just the BikeNZ elite riders but also more than 800 age group riders from clubs around the country who will race in the Challenge Class.
“I think this will be a fantastic chance for us to showcase our sport at the highest level to the public of New Zealand. I am told that BMX was one of the most popular events on television at the Olympics, but it is nothing like seeing it live.
“The field will actually be stronger than in London with a lot more depth. The best of the best will be here in Auckland.”
Walker, the London Olympic silver medallist and 2009 World Champion, will lead the BikeNZ elite team with fellow Cambridge rider Marc Willers, a World Championship podium placegetter in 2011 and London Olympian.
The best will be heading to Auckland and none bigger than the great Maris Strombergs from Latvia. The four-time World Champion has won the gold medal on both occasions that BMX has been an Olympic sport – in Beijing in 2008 and last year in London.
Also likely to be in contention will be the likes of current World Champion Sam Willoughby from Australia, the 2011 World Champion Joris Daudet and last year’s Time Trial World Champion Connor Fields (USA).
The women will include London Olympic champion and 2011 World Champion Mariana Pajon fromArgentina, three time World Champion Shanaze Reade from Great Britain, current World Champion Magalie Pottier (France) and last year’s Time Trial World Champion Caroline Buchanan (Australia).
There are a number of standouts in the New Zealand team to contest the Challenge classes, with riders competing from the 5-6 years division to the oldest competitor, 73 year old Tony Rika (Hamilton).
Rika, believed to be the oldest competitive BMX rider in the world, will take part alongside his grand-daughter Alice Rika (Papakura) who has been selected in the women’s 17-24 years division of the cruiser class.
There are a number of both past and present BMX World Champions in the team including the likes of last year’s winner of the nine years age group, Rico Bearman (Waitakere) and popular Rotorua rider Dave Mohi who will contest the men’s 30 years plus and the 40-44 years cruiser class.
Organisers expect more than 2000 riders from 30 countries to come to Auckland with tickets available for as little as $9 for children, $29 for adults and a family of four pass from $129 from www.ticketmaster.co.nz.
Full details: www.bmxworldsnz.com