THIS year has been arguably the biggest ever for the sport of BMX in the UK, and Milton Keynes’ own club has been getting a piece of the action.
Not only was BMX an Olympic sport for just the second time at London 2012, but the country also hosted this year’s World Championships – meaning the world’s very best riders visited these shores twice in one action-packed, memorable summer.
Although British BMX poster girl Shanaze Reade missed out on an Olympic medal, the sport benefitted from unprecedented exposure, and general sports fans enjoyed an insight into the culture of a sport which is loved by millions across the globe.
That culture has been evident in Milton Keynes since the 1980s when enthusiastic, and brave, riders took to the city’s original BMX track on wasteground at Bleak Hall.
The current track at Pineham was built by the MK Development Corporation in 1984, but it’s only in the last few years – since the likes of Reade has started to win major championships – that the sport has really started to take off in the UK, and in the city.
The Milton Keynes BMX Racing Club was represented by a dozen riders at the 2012 UCI World Championships in Birmingham in May, having began their bid to qualify from the start of the year.
Back in January and February, the 12 city riders travelled to Manchester to compete in the National Series, and did enough to earn the right to compete at the National Indoor Arena in front of a worldwide audience keen to know what all the fuss was about, with the Olympics on the horizon.
Amongst the 12 city racers taking part in the National Series was MK’s golden girl of BMX, Izzy Ferrada, who would go on to clinch the 15/16 years age group title – her success helping the club to finish in a highly respectable 22nd place out of more than 60 from across the UK.
The city club also finished 4th in another regional competition, narrowly missing out on a podium place, while four individuals finished top of the pile in their respective East Anglia region series groups.
Jack Leahey, 9, and Luke Mendes, 10, won their respective junior titles, while Nick Hill won the 30 plus masters crown, and Frankie Leahy was the best of the bunch in the six years and under category – the difference in ages epitomising the fact that the sport really can be for all. Jessica Mendes, Liam Cremmin and Seb Drew also took top three finishes in their groups.
The club has also been active in terms of promoting the sport in the city, linking up with Radcliffe School in Wolverton to offer youngsters the chance to spend the day at the Pineham track as part of a reward scheme for achieving targets in class.
September took the team to Cheddar for the British Championships, finishing 29th out of 61 clubs from across the UK, while Ferrada, Luke Mendes, Lee Block and Hill all earned top 10 individual finishes.
The club has big plans for the future, but for now the focus is on this Sunday’s East Anglia winter series opener, taking place at Pineham.
The best riders from around the region will compete for honours, with an exciting day’s action is due to get under way at noon.