BMX: Big boys front up at championships

They are the Peter Pans of the BMX world - big boys who have never grown up and still enjoy having fun.

They are the cruiser male riders over the age of 45 who give stability and credibility to the new Olympic Games sport.

Southland contractor Brian Pope (59) was the oldest competitor at the annual South Island BMX championships at Forrester Park at the weekend.

It is an event he usually wins, but he dropped back to fourth at the weekend, behind Roy Leaning (Christchurch) 9 points, Rodger Uden (Christchurch) 12 and Gary Smith (Cromwell) 23.

Pope scored 27 points.

"It was a lack of training," the Southland contractor said.

"I've been too busy at work."

He is ranked fifth in his class in New Zealand and has been one of the stalwarts of BMX since he first tried the sport 25 years ago.

Pope joined his wife Caroline and their four children on the BMX tracks and stayed with the sport.

Caroline has had a hip replacement and had to give up, he said.

I've had a few broken ribs myself.

Why did he stay? "I enjoy it," he said.

"The training has helped to keep me young and fit."

Leaning (58), a Christchurch contractor, has been competing in BMX for 27 years, since 1983.

"I started because my kids were enjoying it, he said. I'm competitive and still get a buzz from the sport."

He still applies the same intensity to his racing as when he started the sport.

Perhaps this accounts for his three knee reconstruction operations.

He has won seven New Zealand titles and finished eighth at last year's world championships in Adelaide.

There were seven rounds at the South Island championships, and Leaning was first in five of the races and second in two.

Smith (49), sport turf manager for the Otago Polytechnic in Cromwell, is a newcomer to BMX and only followed his son, Josh (9), into the sport three years ago.

Smith finished fourth at last year's championships and shifted up one place yesterday to third.

Josh finished ninth last year and moved up three places to sixth in grade 10 boys at the weekend.

Nathan Adair (Alexandra) won the elite men's grade in a close tussle with club mate Daniel McElhinney.

Adair scored 10 and McElhinney 11 points.

Max Pinl-Pasco (Dunedin) was third on 21.

The elite women's title was won by Tamyrn Hurren (Dunedin) on 8, from Sarah Uden (Christchurch) 13 and Celia Lee (Dunedin) 21.

One of the outstanding competitors was Shannon Alexander (Christchurch), who won the 13 and over female cruiser class with a possible seven points.

She won all her races.

She repeated her seven wins when she won the girl's aged 14 to 16 class.

Other Dunedin riders to win titles were Phillip Milburn (age 40 to 44 cruiser class), William Kemp (junior men) and Jordan Donaldson (girls aged 10 and 11).

There were 150 entries for the two-day championship.


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