Cambridge local Leila Walker has continued her remarkable run of performances to win a fifth-straight UCI BMX World Championship title in the USA.
The Cambridge Middle School student won the 12-year-old girls’ title on the first day of age group racing at the competition last week, held at the impressive Rock Hill BMX Centre in South Carolina.
“I think it’s great to be able to come to America and get the win knowing that the competition would be intense,” Leila said. “In America BMX is a very popular sport, there are a lot more riders, so to compete here against them and riders from the rest of the world was really cool.”
Leila’s five-time string of success started when the Championship was held in Auckland back in 2013, where she won the world title for 8 years olds. Then the following year in the Netherlands Leila won the title for 9 year olds, followed by the 10 year olds’ title in Belgium in 2015, and once again for 11 year olds in Colombia last year. Leila said this stellar track-record meant there was even more pressure to deliver once again this year, so she was rapt to have finished at the top.
“I felt relieved after I crossed the line because the expectation for me having won the previous four years was quite high, and to win was the best feeling.”
Walker cleared out from the get-go, winning all three of her qualifying motos, the quarterfinal, semifinal and then dominated the final in a strong field against three American riders, two from Colombia and one each from Peru and the Netherlands.
“I thought the final race went well,” said Leila. “Everything came together and overall I thought it was a good lap. Waiting through staging got me a bit nervous, however I got a good gate and the rest of the race felt great.”
Now with her 5th title under her belt, it’s fair to say we haven’t seen the last of Leila Walker!
Another Cambridge BMX superstar who bears no relation, Sarah Walker also came away from the competition with some remarkable results, and even survived a spectacular crash in a qualifying race.
Despite an injury-plagued few years and no racing for two months, Sarah finished as the top Kiwi rider in her division, making her first final in three years at the Championships. The 29 year old had to be content with eighth in a talent-packed final, and believes her performances were such that instead of doubting her future in the sport, that she can plot a course to a possible fourth Olympics in Tokyo 2020.
Another Cambridge BMX rider, Lily Greenough was also able to earn a finals trophy, as well as World Championship Plates when she competed in the 10 year olds division, placing third in the semifinal to finish eighth in the final.