Laidlaw, Lucas best riders
Southland riders had mixed fortunes at last week's world BMX championships in Auckland.
The two best performed riders in the 15-strong contingent of Southland riders in the New Zealand team were Summer Lucas and Ruby Laidlaw.
Lucas, who rode at the 2009 world championships in Adelaide, made it through the semifinals in her 16-years girls class.
She finished sixth, with the top four riders in each semifinal advancing to the final.
Laidlaw (10-years girls class) was one of many riders who crashed out on the technical Vector Arena track.
She got off to a poor start out of the gate and then tried to make up time by going low on a corner and was taken out by a rider who came down on top of her.
Southland BMX club president Ginge Burnett said Laidlaw was definitely riding well enough to get through to the final.
Ben Burnett (10-years boys) and Josh Burnett (13-years boys) both finished fifth in their heat, with the top four riders advancing.
There were plenty of nerves amongst the Southland riders as they lined up against the world's best, but overall the group had acquitted itself well, Burnett said.
"They raced really well and one of the things I noticed was that often at the world champs there are two or three countries that dominate, but when it come down to the finals there were six or seven different countries on the gate.
"That was awesome."
Burnett was impressed with the running of the world championships.
Despite some criticism of the tight nature of the indoor track, which was about three quarters of the length of a normal first class track, he said the track had ridden well.
Overall, New Zealand riders claimed 12 world titles, 26 other podium places and 46 others made finals in virtually every class from six and under boys to the 45 years and over Cruisers.
The majority of the success came in the Challenge age group classes, but there were positive signs at the elite level too, with Marc Willers finishing second in elite men - his best World Championship result - and Hannah Sarten claiming a bronze medal in junior women.
Cody Hobbs was the best of the junior men going as far as the semifinals.
Apart from Willers, Daniel Franks and first year elite rider Trent Jones made it to the semifinals.
Willers turned his season around with the runner-up placing.
Four riders stood on the podium twice during the championships. Hamilton's Calien Calkin won the 12 year boy's class and 24 hours later was runner up in the 12 and under cruiser.
Rangiora's Tahlia Hansen put the disappointment of finishing runner-up in the 16 girls behind her to win the 16 and under cruiser.
Auckland's Adam Coker won the 25-29 years men's 20 inch class and then had to settle for second in the same age group cruiser class and Maynard Peel from the Puni-based Sunset Coast club was third in both the 14 boys and the 13-14 years Cruiser.
The Southland BMX club is continuing with a $20,000 project to build a new start gate at its Elizabeth Park home, with financial support from the Invercargill Licensing Trust and other sources.
Burnett said there was still a long-term plan to build a new track at Surrey Park to complement the velodrome.
If sufficient fill could be sourced for the new track, it would cost about $200,000 to develop a new track.
The Elizabeth Park starting gate will be able to be moved at a later date, he said.
- The Southland Times