Fast tracking to France

Tauranga BMX Club members Charlie Withington and Greg Hughes head to France in July for the BMX world champs. Photo: John Borren.

Despite getting knocked off his bike in the recent New Zealand qualifiers, Tauranga youngster Charlie Withington got back up and made the cut for the upcoming 2022 UCI BMX Racing World Championships in France.
Charlie started out on a balance bike in the striders club at Tauranga BMX Club when he was just three years old and moved onto competing in BMX when he was five.

Now aged 9, Charlie has been doing exceptionally well on BMX tracks – both nationally and internationally.

“Last year he was ranked New Zealand number 3 in his age division and the year before he was ranked NZ number 2 in his age-group,” says Charlie’s mum Amanda.

 “Last month he went to Australia to the Oceania BMX Racing Championships and finished fifth in his age group there.”

At this year’s national qualifiers at the Hamilton BMX Club from March 12-13 Charlie placed New Zealand number 8 in the 10-year-old division – and the race did not come without a challenge for securing his world champ spot.
“He had a pretty gnarly crash in the final but he got up and finished,” says Amanda, who says the top eight ranked riders in each age-group at BMXNZ national championships get to represent NZ at the world championships.

Friendly competition

Despite the odd crash and tumble, Charlie says he loves BMX because “you get to make new friends and you get to be super competitive”. Amanda says Charlie has friends all over NZ because of the travel they do during the BMX competing season.

Charlie may make some international friends in July too. The 2022 UCI BMX Racing World Championships takes place in France from July 26-31. With five days of competition, 3000 athletes from more than 45 countries will race.
Amanda’s words of wisdom for her son and his racing is to: “Just focus and to get as good a placing as you can, and have fun!”

Talented club

Another rider from Tauranga BMX club that’s made it to world championships in France is fellow Tauranga BMX Club member Greg Hughes. The 51-year-old is number one in New Zealand for his division – the 50-plus Male Cruiser Class.

Riding off and on since he was 13, Greg says: “I still get a buzz from the adrenaline even though it’s a short race”.

Preparing for racing in France, Greg has been keeping an eye on the competition. “I have been watching the British and European rounds and taking notes of who I will be competing against in my age group and then obviously sussing them out when I’m there,” says Greg.

The Tauranga BMX Club is holding a pop-up fundraiser ride this Sunday, June 5, to support their BMX champions heading to France.

The event is at the club’s park base at 280 Cambridge Rd, Tauranga. Entry is $15 per rider. Registration is 9am-10am, with racing to start 11am.

For details visit: https://www.facebook.com/Taurangabmxclub
Charlie also has a Givealittle page – donate at: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/help-charlie-ride-at-the-2022-bmx-world

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