âWoke up now and I still can't believe what I did yesterday...â Yoshitaku Nagasako shared his delight on Twitter the day after finishing seventh in the final of the UCI BMX World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Japanese rider was one of nine World Cycling Centre trainees competing in the worldâs leading BMX event of the year, three of whom got down to the last eight competitors.
In the final âYoshiâ, was in third position when he fell on the first corner, ruining any chances he had of surprising the big names of BMX. However, as the commentator remarked before the start, âThis boy is one to watch out for.â
A confidence boost for Yoshitaku Nagasako
Despite the disappointment of crashing, Yoshi realises that this performance is another step in his ascension in the world of BMX: âI am so happy,â he commented. âThis result is the best ever for me. It was a good experience and has given me confidence.â
To make the final, he sailed through the morningâs moto heats, followed by the 1/8 finals, Â¼ finals and semi-finals. Double Olympic Champion Maris Strombergs and 2012 World Champion Sam Willoughby had failed to get that far, but Yoshi remained unfazed, even when lining up for the final: âI wasnât nervous. I was excited and just looking forward to the race starting.
âWhen I fell, I thought, âoh shitâ but thatâs OK. I have watched the video and you could see I wasnât afraid. I took the inside. I did a good job.â
The 19-year-old has a major long-term goal: Rio 2016. âIâm going to get a medal,â he declares.
Stefany Hernandez: âEveryone wants to winâ
In order to get to her final, Stefany Hernandez had lined up with some of the biggest names in womenâs BMX: Olympic Champion Mariana Pajon in the Â¼ final and Caroline Buchanan, who eventually went on to win the title, in the semis.
The Venezuelan rider also crashed on the first turn in the main race but is philosophical about her 7th place.
âI would have liked to be on the podium, but thatâs BMX,â she said. âEveryone wants to win and there were a lot of crashes.â
Her performance was particularly impressive given the long break she took following her disappointing Olympic campaign in London.
âI had a long break after the Games and then I had shoulder surgery at the beginning of the year,â explains the athlete who returned to the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland a few months ago with a great deal of work to get back in shape.
âI had to start all over again. At my first European Championship race I didnât even get to the semis and now, three months later, I am in the final of the Worlds!â
The World Cycling Centreâs other finalist was Junior rider Natalia Suvorova. The 17-year-old Russian has been training in Aigle since April and has demonstrated strength and skill that belies her small stature.
âA very determinedâ Natalia Suvorova
After finishing second in two motos, Suvorova crashed but still had enough points to qualify for the final.
âShe is a rider to keep an eye on,â declared the race commentator. âThere is not much to her but she is a very determined bike rider.â
In the final, Suvorova crashed at the second corner but got back on her bike to take a third seventh-place for the World Cycling Centre.
WCC Coach Thomas Allier declares satisfaction with his team of young athletes: âWe didnât get a medal but they have shown their ability. The group works very hard and we have some great potential in there to go even further. They are hard workers.â
Quarter finals for two more trainees
As well as the three trainees who made the finals, two other of the WCC athletes went through to the Â¼ finals before being knocked out of the competition: Venezuelan Jholman Sivira in the Junior Menâs competition and 2012 Juniors World Champion Carlos Ramirez.
In his first year as an Elite rider, the Colombian had a near faultless run through the motos and 1/8 finals before falling in the Â¼ final. Ramirez crashed in illustrious company: Australiaâs 2012 World Champion Sam Willoughby and time trial World Champion from the day before, Connor Fields (USA) went down with him.
Allier resumes: âHe did very, very well. This is his first year as an Elite rider and he has shown that he has what it takes to rival the very best.â
Next major competition for the WCC athletes after a well-earned break in their respective countries: the final round of the 2013 UCI BMX World Cup in Chula Vista on September 27 and 28.