Willoughby, Buchanan claim doubles3 May 2014
CYCLING - BMX: London Olympic silver medallist Sam Willoughby and reigning world champion Caroline Buchanan scored contrasting victories in claiming the elite men's and women's titles on Saturday at the 2014 national BMX championships in Shepparton.
The duo won back national crowns they both last claimed in 2011, with the victories complimenting the Oceania Championships the pair snared on Thursday night.
Willoughby, the 2012 world champion, had to fight all the way to defeat rising star Anthony Dean and National Series winner Bodi Turner but Buchanan's red-hot win was far more comprehensive.
Willoughby, who had said he did not want to disappoint, made a typically blistering start but fellow South Australian Dean - also based in San Diego - immediately threw out a challenge.
There was nothing between the pair at the end of the first and second straights before Willoughby showed his class to push ahead and seal the title.
"I'm happy to get that one," he said.
"It wasn't the lap I visualised but I got to the finish first so I'll take it.
"It's a long track, add some rain and all the support from everyone here that always overwhelms me when I come home. It's surreal."
In the women's, Buchanan beat home Leanna Curtis (NSW) and Kirsten Dellar (WA) to continue a winning streak at major events this year that includes the first round of the UCI Supercross World Cup, the Oceania crown and now the National Championship.
Buchanan said she was unaware of how much of a lead she had until the end of the race and didn't stop pedalling until she was within metres of the finish line, even though she was 10 metres in front of her nearest rival.
"I really didn't know how far in front I was," Buchanan said.
"BMX is never over until the finish line and I am always trying to challenge myself for that world stage. I'm really hungry for Rio."
Other impressive winners were elite junior stars Jade Parker (Qld) and Max Cairns (Vic), 14 boys' phenomenon Jaden Rice (Vic) and Queenslander Sara Jones in the 15 girls.
Buchanan, Willoughby win Oceania Crowns
Racing under lights in front of a packed house, London Olympic silver medallist Sam Willoughby and reigning world champion Caroline Buchanan have taken out the elite men’s and women’s Oceania BMX Championships at Shepparton in Victoria.
The pair, who both remained undefeated throughout the event, led from start to finish in their respective finals, which doubled as the last round of the national series.
Buchanan’s victory also handed her the national series title with a fourth win from five rounds.
For Willoughby it was a triumphant first return to Australia from his base in San Diego this year and augers well for his assault on the Subaru BMX National Championships at the same track on Saturday.
The 2012 world BMX champion defeated Anthony Dean, who stormed home for silver, ahead of reigning Australian champion Corey Frieswyk.
Rising star Bodi Turner crossed the line in fifth, which was enough for the Victorian to claim his first ever elite men’s national series.
Willoughby said the win on his return to Australia lifted a weight off his shoulders.
“It feels good, I’ve got a busy month coming up and there’s a lot of pressure when I come home to these races and I feel it,” Willoughby said.
“So it’s good to come here and put together perfection and that’s what I train to do.”
Buchanan, who was followed home by last year’s world championships’ runner-up Lauren Reynolds and NSW’s Rachel Jones, said she just loved performing in front of a packed crowd.
“I love a show, this is the best part of BMX, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy what it’s all about,” Buchanan said.
“I’m coming in feeling strong, coming off the back of a world cup win and I’m hungry for a national title.”
Earlier, Victoria’s world number six ranked junior men’s rider Max Cairns confirmed his undoubted potential with a stunning win in his category to lock up the national series, whilst Queenslander Jade Parker scored a stirring win in the corresponding women’s class and earned herself a series crown too.
Results from all classes can be found here
Action continues on Friday with riders on the track throughout the day contesting the various Challenge class national titles before the elite competitors return on Saturday.