Never too young to build a dream
Broken limbs, bangs and bruises, but that's just part of it, writes Aaron Goile .
She's only 8 years old but Nikita Goodwin is already leaving a huge mark on the sport of motocross.
The year 3 Rotokauri School student won a national title earlier this month, riding to victory in the 50cc class in the 4-to-8-year-olds category at the two-day New Zealand Mini Motocross Championships in Wellington.
Nikita was made to work for her victory, saying: "It wasn't really easy".
That result followed a second placing at the North Island champs in June, after winning the King of the North event in March.
And just last weekend the youngster took home another title, with a victory in the 6-to-8-years class at the Taupo Extravaganza.
All this represents a fantastic time for Nikita, who started riding at the unbelievably young age of 3, following in the footsteps of her brother Shaun, now 18, who has competed at major meetings over the years.
"She's been going to motocross since she was a newborn," said Nikita's mother, Kristine Goodwin.
"She's had a good role model all these years and I think Shaun has certainly been an inspiration to Nikita."
When it comes to racing at this age, Nikita is up against boys as well as girls, but is not intimidated by them whatsoever, with Kristine Goodwin putting some of that down to the fact that Nikita used to race against Shaun on the track at their home, which he built.
Nikita uses that area for practice two to three times a week, when the weather permits, and gets coached by Shaun and their father, Wayne.
She admitted that it can "sometimes" be a scary sport to compete in, with a broken arm and leg in two separate crashes a couple of years ago evidence of that.
Next on Nikita's agenda are the Auckland championships next weekend and Summercross at Whakatane in late December.
And she is confident she can one day achieve her goal of racing "all around the world" like her two idols - 16-year-old Courtney Duncan, who finished on the podium at last year's United States Junior Motocross Championships, and two-time world champion Katherine Prumm, who was forced to retire in 2008 after breaking her back in three places.
"She's got good intentions, but at 8, I think we'll see how we go, not just that but money-wise, it's big bucks to do things like that," Kristine Goodwin said.
Nikita is grateful to the sponsorship of the Hamilton Motorcycle Centre, and is on the lookout for more people who can help her in her quest for success.
"The funding is the main thing," mum Kristine says. "And the older they get the more expensive the bikes become."