Oceania Champion Jessie Smith wins Junior BMX world title
New Zealand’s Jessie Smith claimed the Junior Women’s BMX world title adding to her Oceania crown at the 2019 UCI BMX World Championships in Heusden-Zolder, Saturday July 27.
It was a successful return to Belgium for the 18-year-old from Hamilton, New Zealand who won the 14 year old Challenge Class world title Heusden-Zolder in 2014.
Smith becomes the first New Zealand rider to win the UCI Junior Women’s BMX World title and the fourth from Oceania. Following in the pedal strokes of Rachel Marshall (1997), Nicole Callisto (2005) and Melinda McLeod (2011).
“Honestly I just can’t believe it. It’s crazy. I had a plan to go to Europe. It was a bit of a gamble because I was only selected for the worlds a month ago. I am so happy it paid off,” said Smith.
“The corners were slippery but you had to take it a bit easier. I didn’t really change my approach though. I rely on my track speed a lot. Sometimes I have jumped the first big jump but coming in to today knowing my track speed was quite good, I relied on that and managed a PB.”
The new world champion now steps up to the elite ranks having netted a fourth place finish in the elite category at round six of the UCI Supercross World Cup earlier this year. From here she heads to China before contesting the final rounds of the World Cup season with an eye on representing New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“The Olympic dream now is very much in my head. It is for sure a possibility now so I am looking forward to what next year brings when I move to the elite ranks.”
In other categories Australia’s Oliver Moran took silver in the junior men’s race. Oceania Champion Saya Sakakibara was the top Oceania finisher in the elite women’s field finishing seventh, with 2015 Oceania Champion Lauren Reynolds exiting in the semi-finals and dual Oceania Champion Sarah Walker and five time medallist Rebecca Petch both making it through to the quarterfinals.
Rio Olympian and former Oceania Championship bronze medallist Anthony Dean claimed sixth in the elite men’s with reigning Oceania Champion Kai Sakakibara reaching the semi-finals.