A 57-strong New Zealand team will contest the UCI BMX World Championships in Birmingham next week including a record 14 riders in the BikeNZ squad to compete in the elite competition.
The remainder will race in the Challenge and Cruiser categories, with the team aged from five years to over 50 years.
The sizeable New Zealand contingent will be hoping to make a strong showing in Birmingham before they host the 2013 world championships in Auckland, to be staged indoors at the Vector Arena next July.
The increased numbers in the elite class is a result of the rapid development of the high performance programme under BikeNZ national coach Ken Cools. They are led by 2009 world champion Sarah Walker, who won the silver medal in Copenhagen and US-based Marc Willers, currently world number three ranked rider who won the bronze medal last year.
The world championship is the final qualifying event for the London Olympics with the New Zealand team due to be named at the end of the month.
While there is real interest in the elite competition, much of the strength of BMX in this country comes from its rock solid family values, which are recognisable in the team going to Birmingham. They include the Stevens-McNab family from Rotorua with Wyatt (5 years) and world champion Lachlan (8 years) both riding. Also competing is the Fox family from Gisborne with Abigail defending her world title (14 years) and Nic in the elite men's division for the first time.
The team won nine medals in Copenhagen last year.
The championships, which will be held indoors at Birmingham, comprise the Challenge (age-group) racing on Thursday and Friday afternoon, elite time trials on Friday evening with elimination races on Saturday and the cruiser division on Sunday.
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