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Young guns lead the way for Australia on a memorable final day of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup

Australia has capped a memorable UCI BMX Racing World Cup in Brisbane, winning two more finals and adding a swag of minor placings on the final day of racing.

In humid conditions in front of another capacity crowd, Teya Rufus (AUS) completed the perfect double in the Women Under-23, Oli Moran (AUS) broke through for a Men Under-23 World Cup win, while Saya Sakakibara (AUS) maintained top spot in the UCI BMX Racing World Cup standings with another podium finish.

Queensland’s Teya Rufus (AUS) did not drop a lap on the way to back-to-back wins in the Women Under-23, coming away from Brisbane as one of the top performers for the weekend.

Despite having a sensational gate in the final and leading the field into the first corner, Rufus was made to earn the win, lunging her bike at the finish to edge out countrywoman Bella May (AUS) by just 0.053 seconds.

Speaking to AusCycling, Rufus said the shift to a performance environment over the last six months has helped her achieve such amazing results.

“I feel like I’m just this little girl chasing this massive dream, and this dream is becoming a reality. It's just so insane to even think about, let alone ever experience it,” Rufus said.

“My parents (have) funded me to live in Brisbane and first of all be here to chase my dreams. And Sam Willoughby, my coach has been obviously a massive help to me … and (BMX team) Tsquared have been just absolutely incredible.

“And just coming here and feeling the support from everyone I walk past, all the kids asking for signatures. It's just so incredible to be here.

“I love waking up every day and just knowing that I have a dream to chase. Everything that I do each day is contributing to this massive dream of mine.”

Oli Moran (AUS) then upgraded his silver from Saturday with a gold on Sunday, going undefeated all day on his way to winning the Under-23 Men final.

No less than four Australians featured in the deciding race, but after Marcus Leth (DEN) led the field for most of the race, it looked like Australia would be denied top spot on the podium.

However, an amazing display of finishing speed saw Moran pinch the win on the line by just over a tenth of a second, and Moran revealed to AusCycling that working on select performance areas with his coaches over the last few months has helped him lift his performance.

“I had a good off season, and I've been working hard with my coaches at NSWIS and with Luke (Madill), so everything's been going good from my injury at the end of last year,” Moran said.

“Just been working with the physio and the (strength and conditioning) coach at NSWIS, just really getting strong and getting the foundations good, and then just building on that from there.

“And then obviously, on the track stuff with Luke, just getting some conditioning in, because we knew it was going to be hot in these races.

“Obviously, I didn't win from the start. I want to get out of the gate a little bit better. I've been feeling pretty strong from the kink down, (but) I just need to get those first few pedals out, and then I feel like I'll have a good base of everything. Just a few things to work on.”

Despite winning all her motos on the way to the final, Saya Sakakibara (AUS) was again denied a home win, taking second place to Zoe Claessens (SUI) in the Elite Women decider.

In a repeat of Saturday’s final, Claessens won the first corner and flew down the first straight, opening up an unassailable lead to win by a comfortable margin.

Sakakibara said she had taken plenty of lessons from the weekend.

“Yeah, it was a lot of emotions coming into this. I’ve never really experienced having been in such good form coming into a home World Cup. And I know that I had a lot of eyes on me, and I really, really wanted to win in front of a home crowd, which I know that I can win, Sakakibara said.

“I just tried to focus on each challenge as it came, and literally one race at a time. I feel like performance wise, it wasn't very perfect. I was a little bit inconsistent and that first jump yesterday in the final, I overjumped, I went too far. And then this one, I got too excited and came up a bit too short and those were literally my downfalls.

“Someone I looked up to for a long time, Sarah Walker, I met up with her in Rotorua, and (she) said, ‘Coming into this home World Cup, this is probably the closest thing that's going to be to the Olympics. Try to embrace it, try to focus on what you're going to be doing at the Olympics.’

“I really took that advice in, and in the end, it's just repeating what works.

“I think it's just really important and it's a responsibility for me to be true to myself and do the best that I can and then carry myself in the best way that I think I can. And if I can inspire the young generation coming up, it's cool.”

After the elation of yesterday’s Elite Men racing, Australian hopes were dashed in today’s quarter finals when Izaac Kennedy (AUS) was left with nowhere to go as with race leader Diego Alejandro Arboleda Ospina (COL) crashed on the final turn.

Hayden Fletcher (AUS) also came unstuck in his quarter final, leaving Australia with no riders through into the final two motos, where Kye White (GBR) won the final race of the weekend in a thrilling finish over Cedric Butti (SUI).

The next round of the UCI BMX Racing World Cup will take place in Tulsa, USA from 27-28 April.

The 2024 UCI BMX Racing World Cup is supported by Brisbane City Council, through Brisbane Economic Development Agency and the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland.


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