Sarah Walker praises Southern riders

Olympic silver medal winner Sarah Walker coaches (from left) Tahlia Hansen, of Rangiora and Shakira Mirfin and Ruby Laidlaw, of Southland, at Forrester Park yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Olympic silver medal winner Sarah Walker coaches (from left) Tahlia Hansen, of Rangiora and Shakira Mirfin and Ruby Laidlaw, of Southland, at Forrester Park yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Southern BMX riders have a lot of potential and earn every success they have, Olympic silver medal winner Sarah Walker says.

In Dunedin at the weekend to coach southern riders and appear at the Dunedin BMX open race meeting yesterday, Walker, of Cambridge, was highly complimentary of the South's young riders.

While not riding due to a healing shoulder injury, she was happy to impart her knowledge to the region's young female riders.

''The scene up north is so much bigger, so the South Islanders have a lot more to go through to get where they are and they do it on their own.

''You know they have earned it to get where they are.''

One of those is Rangiora rider Tahlia Hansen (15), a national age group champion, who credits Walker with being a ''big help'' over the years.

''She's given me plenty of tips to improve my riding.''

Walker said she would be doing all she could to help Tahlia get to the Rio Olympics.

''I'll help her give me a run for my money. As long as New Zealand gets to send the fastest person possible - of course, I want it, too.''

Young Southland riders Ruby Laidlaw (10) and Shakira Mirfin (11) had also shown real improvement.

''With the nationals next month it's exciting to see the improvements. There is real potential down here,'' Walker said.

Dunedin BMX Club president Jason Wadsworth said the event had attracted riders from Canterbury south, who were seeking qualifying points for the nationals.

With coaching clinics on Saturday and yesterday morning and cycle skills challenges on offer, in conjunction with Sport Otago, it was a successful day, he said. Club membership had more than tripled this year from 20 riders to 70.

-rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz