The BMX Freestyle Park competitions, the finals of which were held today in Glasgow as part of the UCI Cycling World Championships, crowned an unprecedented winner in the men's event, Great Britain's Kieran Reilly, and confirmed the immense talent of American Hannah Roberts in the women's event.
After rain-related postponements, the men's BMX Freestyle Park final was held today with 24 competitors, with semi-final transformed into a final. This decision offered a particulary intense competition to delight the enthusiastic Glasgow Green crowd. In the absence of sunshine, the colour of the ramps formed the only yellow rays, but the riders quickly warmed up the atmosphere.
First UCI World title, on home soil, for Reilly
American Nick Bruce has had an injury-plagued year. The man from Ohio nevertheless finished on the podium, in third place, with a performance that included a remarkable backflip windshield wiper.
Australian Olympic Champion Logan Martin took advantage of his second run to move up from third place to the silver medal position by adding a forward bike flip to his already trick-packed run.
Winning in front of your home crowd is an incredible feeling. Kieran Reilly was dreaming of a British title and he managed to achieve it, supported by a crowd that certainly helped him to transcend himself. But the Gateshead-born specialist had to pull off some incredible tricks.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed honestly, the rain delay making the last two riders to wait was the longest half an hour of my life not knowing where I was because at this event getting a medal was amazing,” said Kieran Reilly. “Getting to wear the jersey is next level. If I would choose a UCI World Championships to win it, it would be this one. All my family drove up for this and they see more than anyone the hard work that goes into this, so for them to see me reaping the rewards is amazing.“
Japan's Rim Nakamura only managed 4th place after winning the title last year. Meanwhile, Jude Jones (GBR) put in a remarkable performance, producing runs at a level he has rarely been seen at before.
Hannah, the only one to stand up to impressive Chinese
Having five Chinese competitors in the final of a BMX Freestyle Park competition is impressive, but no longer a surprise. Their training, supervised by Venezuelan champion Daniel Dhers, an expert in the field, proved devilishly effective. The only thing that eluded them was victory, as the Chinese put in a very compact group effort, taking every place from second to sixth. The Chinese had already impressed with their abundance of talent at the highest level, but this was the first time they had imposed their mastery in this way.
The only rider to succeed in dominating them was Hannah Roberts, already four-time UCI BMX Freestyle Park World Champion. The American had to pull out all the stops to win her fifth rainbow jersey. Backflips, flairs, tailwhips, 360s and variations of all kinds enabled her to win the women's final.
Among the Chinese contenders, Sun Sibei took silver and was joined on the podium by Zhou Huimin. Fan Zihui and Zheng Qian took 4th and 5th place respectively, ahead of Deng Yawen.
During her preparations for the UCI Cycling World Championships, Hannah Roberts explained: "I always want to go as far as I can, but I'm also really happy to see other riders pushing the limits and, honestly, it's incredible to see all these champions coming from China! I don't know if that's what pushes me to be stronger, but it definitely inspires me!"
And that inspiration paid off at Glasgow Green!