From the exam hall to the world stage for Izzy

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BMX starlet Izzy Ferrada is gearing up for potentially the biggest week of her life – but you wouldn’t have thought it by talking to her.

Not only is the 16-year-old sitting her GCSE exams next week but she also has the small matter of the 2012 BMX World Championships to think about.

However, Izzy – or Isabelle to father Alex – is taking everything in her stride, and not getting too carried away by the importance of either.

The Ousedale School pupil will race against the best girls in the world next weekend after she dashes between her home in Great Linford and the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham for practice sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the odd life-changing exam thrown in along the way.

Competing in three heats, Izzy hopes to do enough to progress through to the quarters, semis, and ultimately the final, but the competition is extremely tough with the best young riders from France, Holland and the USA in particular likely to provide the strongest challenge.

Izzy says she feels no pressure, but as the current British number one in her age group, much will be expected of the girl who has been showing the boys how it’s done since she was four-years-old.

She currently tops the UK Series at the half-way stage, having won three of the five rounds to date.

Winning the National title she first won at the age of 12 remains her main priority, and any success at next week’s World Championships will be a bonus, but one she would love to have.

“This is my life. I’ve been doing it for so long that nothing really bothers me,” said Izzy. “It’s not just a sport it’s a way of life. A culture. And I’ve made so many friends doing it.

“This will be my third Worlds and I’d like to reach the final. I’ve never made it that far before so that’s the target. The good thing about this sport is that you never know what can happen. It’s very unpredictable. There can be accidents and suddenly you can find yourself out in front. It’s going to be good.”

Izzy’s two previous Championship outings have taken her to Copenhagen last year, and Paris – the latter when she was just nine-years-old. Travelling around Europe and the UK with dad Alex, the pair have become very close.

Izzy’s BMX exploits might have cost him an awful lot of time and money over the last decade or so, but as long as she races with a smile on her face, that’s all that concerns Alex, who put Izzy on her first bike when she was just four.

Following in the tyre tracks of older brother Michael – a regional champion who was once ranked number two in the country – Izzy was always destined for a childhood on the track.

Local and regional success was soon hers and weekends away just part of the course as she gradually started to make a big impression on the national stage, leading to her breakthrough National Series victory in 2008.

In fact Izzy’s obsession with sport is probably epitomised by the fact that she would like to study it, and would like to become a British Cycling BMX coach when she reaches 18. She has already been offered a place at Milton Keynes College to study Sport and Exercise Sciences, so she is well on the way.

But like most girls her age, she isn’t too worried about the future yet, and instead adopts a genuinely relaxed ‘what will be will be’ outlook on life.

And in her sport – that has certainly seen her suffer her fair share of bumps and bruises along the way – that’s probably not a bad attitude to have.