Family, friendship and fun sums up what it's like to take part in one of the world's fastest-growing Olympic sports, BMX.

And the Tauranga BMX Club epitomises everything that has helped bike motocross take such huge strides on the national and international stage.

It was the breeding ground of Olympians Sarah Walker and Kurt Pickard, and the BMX New Zealand-approved track at Cambridge Rd is now a magnet for devotees of the sport from around the Bay.

Club secretary Jenny Steward liked the emphasis on sportsmanship, demonstrated when riders shake hands at the end of every race.

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''They are rivals on the track and friends off the track.''

The family-orientated club kept abreast of trends, deciding to start a special class to cater for the growth in young children riding striders or balance bikes.

It meant the age of members ranged from 3, to men in their 50s.

''There is a whole variety of people.''

The emphasis on fun and friendship did not dilute the competitive spirit that ran through the club.

''We did fantastic at the nationals. We had so many nationally ranked riders, from 7 and 8-year-olds to the old boys.''

The success of the club had translated into its younger members getting international opportunities not always available in other sports.

Jaydah-Lily Lees and Kiera Waite were part of a four-strong New Zealand Mighty 11s team that beat Australia in a transtasman contest last October. The two girls represented the Tauranga Club even though Jaydah-Lily was from Whakatane.

The girls notched up a first in the history of the Mighty 11s transtasman encounters, following in the footsteps of their fathers Hayden Moore and Cameron Waite, who were also selected for the Mighty 11s team when they were 11.

Steward said BMX was a sport that appealed as much to girls as boys; Sarah Walker was an inspiration for girls in the same way as Kurt Pickard inspired boys.

But there was no pressure on club riders.

''Everybody has different goals. It could be going to the Olympics, getting to the nationals or just mastering the jumps on our track - and believe me the jumps are not easy.''

Pickard, a life member of the club, was giving back to the new generation of riders by taking training sessions.

The club, which had gone from strength to strength since it was founded 34 years ago, had been chosen to host the North Island BMX Championships over Labour Weekend next year - further cementing its reputation as a top track since the nationals were held in Tauranga five years ago.

And despite headline-grabbing injuries suffered by hard-out top international riders, Steward said BMX was a safe sport because of all the safety gear, including full-face helmets.

Another good aspect of BMX was that it was comparatively cheap for children to enter the sport. Parents could pick up a good second-hand bike for $200 and the bikes held their value.

''There are always people buying and selling.''

If children were not sure about whether they wanted to take up BMX, the first three weeks were free and the club had half a dozen bikes that could be borrowed.

Licences started at $30 for members who did not want to go racing but just use the track and take part in training sessions.


Tauranga BMX Club
- Founded 1984
- Shifted to Cambridge Rd in 2011
- Club days Tuesday nights (summer) and 2pm Sundays (winter)