NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) scholarship athlete and World No 2 Saya Sakakibara (Southlake-Illawarra BMX) has been crowned for the third consecutive time Australia’s BMX Racing Elite National Champion.
The conditions could barely have been any better for the first national championships at Shepparton since 2019, with warm temperatures and low winds giving riders confidence to give it everything once the gate dropped.
Under the UCI BMX Championship regulations, the limited size of the women fields meant riders would not race the first moto or a final, with results decided on points across motos 2, 3 and 4.
Regardless, the Women Elite category went as expected, with world number 2 Saya Sakakibara (Southlake-Illawarra BMX) dominating all three motos on the way to a comfortable win ahead of Erin Lockwood (Nerang BMX) and Gemma-Lee Thomas (Castle Hill BMX).
Sakakibara told AusCycling she was happy to finish the season on a high in front of her Australian fans.
“It feels really good to come off the most successful season I’ve ever had in my career, and then to come back here to Australia, it’s really special coming back to Nationals. I think it’s important for me just to come back when I can, to come to a National race,” Sakakibara said.
“Everyone supports me, watching the World Cups, sending messages on Instagram and things like that, so I think it’s really important to come back, and just show my face and see everyone and watch them racing as well.”
The 2023 UCI World Cup winner also revealed how she kept herself motivated despite holding a clear edge over her opponents.
“We only had four on the gate, it was just me against myself, and I feel like I’ve said that in the World Cups as well, even though I’m racing at a high level at World Cups. I’m trying to go through the same motions, the same process to get the best out of myself in races like this as well.
“I think I’m just so performance driven, so I was just trying to get clean laps and just improve on my time every time.”
Article and image courtesy of AUSCycling