Two Cambridge locals have made it onto the NZ Mighty 11 team set to compete against Australia in June. Cambridge Middle School’s Joel Runciman and Berkley’s Josh Cavanagh made it onto the team after finishing first and second respectively at the National BMX Champs held in Palmerston North over Easter weekend.
They boys will travel to Sydney on June 1, taking part in a cultural exchange with Australian families before competing in the Australia vs New Zealand Mighty 11s Test on June 9-10. It will be the first time leaving the country for Joel, who has also been named as the NZ team captain.
“I thought (making the team) was pretty cool because it means I get to go to Australia,” said Joel.
“I thought it was great,” added Josh. “It’s a good opportunity for someone our age to go overseas to represent the country in a sport.”
The pair first met at the age of six, when they joined the Cambridge BMX Club, and have been good mates ever since.
“It’s pretty cool that they’re doing it together, since they started (BMX) together,” said Josh’s mum Shelley. “We’re pretty proud of them.”
The boys have been working towards making the Mighty 11 team for the past year, training under coach Matt Cameron, who will head the new high-performance BMX hub planned for Cambridge.
“He makes it lots of fun and encourages them to jump bigger, which we don’t like!” laughed Shelley. “It’s pretty nerve-wracking!” added Joel’s mum Julia.
The boys secured their places quite firmly on the Mighty 11 team having won almost all of their races at Nationals. Because their birthdays are in November and December, they normally race against older boys in BMX age group racing, based on a competitor’s age at the turn of the new year, but for Mighty 11s, it’s all about what age you are on the day, so they’re older than most of their competitors.
“This is the first time that they’ve had a chance to shine, which has been great, and obviously they did shine (at Nationals),” said Shelley.
“They nearly took each other out because they both wanted to come first!” laughed Shelley.
The boys said they’re both excited and proud to be on the team and look forward to aiming for victory at the Mighty 11s event in Australia. They will train every second weekend with the NZ team in Te Awamutu, in addition to a strict training schedule at the local BMX track.