The first round of BMX Nationals took place on, 10 and 11 April, at the Kempton Park BMX Track in Johannesburg. The Nationals were during exam time for many schools, so we took a team of 5 and flew up, writes songo.info Sport Programme Manager and Head Coach Darryn Stow. We had 3 boys (Zizo, Likho, Ovayo) and 2 girls (Mila, Khanya) taking part in the event.
The Kempton Park Track is one of the best tracks in South Africa and has hosted many Nationals in the past. The track is always in great condition and one of the favourites amongst the riders. It would be the first time at the track for all the riders, except for Zizo who raced back in 2018 at SA Champs.
The bikes were boxed and we set off to the airport, early on the Thursday morning. The excitement was clear as Mila, Khanya and Ovayo got ready for their first time in an aeroplane. Being with them on the flight was a privilege and something that we will never forget.
Performance at BMX Nationals:
We arrived at the track on Thursday afternoon and the kids were on their bikes and riding within minutes. Watching the kids ride together and encourage each other is something very special. They were getting more confident and starting to hit the jumps within a couple of hours.
Friday was another full day at the track and a chance for everyone to do Gate Starts. We have been fortunate enough to get our own gate at songo.info since the last time we were at Nationals. This has made a big difference for us and has given the kids a lot more confidence on the gate.
Unfortunately, Zizo had a big crash before the Nationals and hurt his shoulder. We tried to get him ready to race but after a few laps on the track, he was in too much pain and we decided it would be best for him to sit the National out and rather heal 100%. It was a big disappointment for him as he was riding better than ever before and very motivated to race.
Saturday was Race Day and into the unknown for a few of the kids. With so many riders and people watching, it can be quite scary racing for the first time. Ovayo raced in the Novice class and had a great weekend. He walked away with 2 Silver Medals and a Bronze. He has been winning all the Local races this year, so it was great to see him competing against such strong competition.
Likho was racing in his second National and was entered in a very tough 14 Expert Class. He gave 100% in every race and managed to make all 3 Finals. In the Final on Sunday, he managed a very impressive 4th place. Mila and Khanya were both racing in their first National and raced in the 11-13 Expert girls class. They often race against the boys locally so it was nice to see them racing with a full gate of girls for a change. They both rode very well and were consistently close to medal positions. Mila managed to come home with a Bronze medal after all the racing.
Thanks & Heading Home
Overall, we were very happy with the racing and how the kids rode. The results are just one part of it for us at songo.info. The experiences and life lessons the kids learnt during the weekend are hopefully something they will hold onto forever.
After many delays, with flights being cancelled and postponed, we finally made it home safely in the early hours of Monday morning. Everyone at the Clubhouse was very excited to see the kids again and hear all about their adventures.
A massive thanks goes to Bobby Behan and Specialized for covering the full costs of this trip to the BMX Nationals! The joy it brought to the kids was unbelievable and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity. The kids have memories that they treasure forever.