Preparation for the UCI BMX World Championships is in its final stages for the Junior athletes training at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland.
Eleven Juniors from eight countries were selected to train at the UCI WCC in Aigle to prepare for this year’s World Championships in Rock Hill, USA, at the end of July. Aged 17 and 18, most of them were chosen from the two-week talent identification camp held at the UCI WCC in October last year.
They are being put through their paces by South African athlete, coach and KwaZulu-Natal Cycling's Development Officer Tyrone Johns: “The beauty about working with Juniors is they are in some ways raw and rough. Just by polishing them and working the edges away we can immediately start to see the diamonds underneath,” he said.
“Working with such talent is really easy as it involves only minor adjustments. A tweak here and there can give them the edge they have been searching for.”
Their coach is full of praise not only for their ability, but also their determination and attitude: “The work ethic in the group is fantastic. They are more than happy to put in the prescribed training, even if it means doing so on tired legs.”
The aim of the camp has been to help the athletes achieve the best results possible at the UCI BMX World Championships. Several have already performed well in previous years in the Challenge classes, while one of the camp participants, Japan’s Sae Hatekeyama, finished fourth in the Junior Women’s race at last year’s UCI BMX World Championships in Medellin, Colombia.
As well as training on the UCI WCC Supercross track and in the gym, they have gained valuable race experience at different rounds of the French Cup, Swiss Cup and European Cup, where they have already enjoyed considerable success: Latvia’s Vineta Petersone took first place in the overall European Cup classification.
The Juniors who have made the UCI WCC their home in the run-up to the Championships, come from eight different countries: Thailand, Slovakia, Latvia, Peru, South Africa, Ecuador, Colombia and Japan. While the long-term aim for some are the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, for now the talented young athletes have their eyes firmly set on the Worlds in Rock Hill.
“We all know what the goal is, and not many get the honour of wearing a rainbow jersey,” said Tyrone Johns. “At the end of the day, that is what is driving our team, the dream of becoming the Junior UCI BMX World Champion. We train every day with that goal in mind, never forgetting to put in the hard work now so it can pay off at the end of July.”