Sakakibara grabs World Cup bronze

ON THE PODIUM: Helensburgh's Saya Sakakibara (left) won bronze at the first round of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in France on Saturday. Picture: BMXHP Instagram

ON THE PODIUM: Helensburgh's Saya Sakakibara (left) won bronze at the first round of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in France on Saturday. Picture: BMXHP Instagram

HELENSBURGH BMX star Saya Sakakibara raced to a bronze medal finish at the first round of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, France on Saturday.

The 19-year-old was third behind Olympic bronze medalist and two-time World Cup Series champion Laura Smulders of the Netherlands and Russia’s Natalia Afremova.

It was her second  podium is the second at the World Cup level, after claiming silver as an elite junior in the US in 2016, and comes hot on the heels of her gold medal in the second round of the UEC BMX European Cup in Verona last weekend.

“It feels great to get my second World up medal, especially following on from last weekend,” Sakakibara said.

“I had a lot of confidence and now I know where I am at on the world stage. I felt calm on the gate for each race, and I didn’t put pressure on myself. I enjoyed it, raced clean and it got me all the way to the final.

“I have gated next to Laura a few times, and knew she had a strong start. I learnt that last weekend.

“In the final I took lane two and the plan was to follow her down the start hill and first straight, aiming for a pass during the race.

“But Natalia had a better gate than me, and I was knocked back into third place. I was really happy with my start in the final compared to some of my others during the day though.

“Today I learned that I am definitely right up there with the best in the world, which is a really good feeling.”

I other Australian results, two-time Olympian Lauren Reynolds finished 10th.

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