Saturday (30 July 2011) was the big day for the South African BMX team attending the 2011 UCI BMX World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark – it was Elite Finals day. After rain had been predicted all week for Saturday’s competition, it stayed away to present a lovely hot day and perfect conditions for racing.
“We had much anticipation for today with Teagan O’Keeffe and Kyle Dodd looking really good in the warm-up, so we were hopeful of a good day,” said South Africa’s BMX High Performance Commissioner Kim Stiebel.
Teagan finished in 6th, 5th and 5th places in her heat races – racing was highly competitive and fiercely contested with little difference between the riders’ times. Teagan had the second straight dialled and fought hard to make up for her poor track position – she had Lieke Klaus in her heat and was always trying to find a way around her, as she was faster on the track.
“Klaus progressed to the final, which really showed that Teagan was right up there with the pace – a couple of stronger gates and she would have gone a long way,” commented Kim. “Unfortunately, she did not make the semi-finals. Teagan’s riding has improved tremendously this year and the hard work she is putting in the UCI World Cycling Centre is certainly paying off.”
In the Junior Elite Men category, Kyle was in good form. He led his first lap all the way to the last turn when a Colombian rider cut across the track, interfering with Kyle’s racing line mid-corner. Kyle maintained his composure and managed to finish 3rd. In heat 2, while battling for 2nd place down the second straight, Kyle was unceremoniously pushed off the track by a French rider but again managed to hold his composure for 6th place. Kyle progressed to the quarter and semi finals, unfortunately starting the latter in gate 8, and finished 5th in his run.
“Kyle can be very happy with the way he rode and what he achieved today,” said Kim. “He is the first South African since Sifiso Nhlapo to make a semi-final at the World Championships in Junior Men. With another year in the junior category, I am sure he will be targeting the Final next year.”
“The racing in general was extremely fast as the track had dried out nicely after the rain earlier in the week,” said Kim. “However there were some heavy falls by riders with a few broken bones as well, notably Corben Sharrah of the USA, who won the Supercross event in South Africa in April. Corben fractured his femur after having nowhere to go when Thomas Hamon lost control.”
After Saturday’s excitement, the team turns their focus to the “Cruiser” racing on Sunday – the last day of the World Championships. The South African BMX team is hoping for a good day of racing to add to heir 2 World numbers achieved on Day 1.