Templates can often take a long time to build in sport but it certainly helps speed up the process if you have the constitution of Renae Colman Savage.

"I felt happy and I felt all the hard work I had put in had paid off," said Savage after she was crowned the 11-year-old girls' champion at the New Zealand BMX National Championship in New Plymouth during the Easter holiday weekend.

Before that accolade, the Hastings Intermediate first-year pupil had qualified second on Good Friday to represent her country against Australia in the Mighty XIs Challenge, an annual transtasman test, at the Castle Hill BMX Club in Sydney, in early June.

What makes the youngster's feat remarkable is that most of the other rivals in her age group at the nationals will turn 12 soon but she won't until February next year.


Savage was among 16 hopefuls in the field at the nationals staged at Hickford Park in Bell Block for the first time.

Jaydah-Lily Lees, of Tauranga, was the top qualifier for the Mighty XIs.

In becoming the best in the country in her age grade, she competed in four races. She won three and was runner-up in the last one.

Savage is human and admits she felt a few nerves in race four when she lined up against defending champion Lily Greenhough, of Cambridge, for the first time.

But there were no such tensions when she joined the top eight at the tall gates of a course longer than the one she's used to.

"In the third straight she made her move because she likes a lot of pumping rather than pedalling out of the fours straights, because she tends to catch up with others and make up much more ground," explained mum Mandy Colman.

About 3m from the last corner it dawned on Savage that this was what she had practised for.

"Over the last year I would go every day to do the gates," she said of her sessions at the Romaine Drive tracks in Havelock North.

She trains with Hawke's Bay BMX Club president Jason Waite on Mondays but competes with older girls and 11-year-old boys on Wednesdays.

In fact, Savage was embarking on a unification title campaign because she had won her age-group North Island Championship crown in Whangarei last October and the South Island equivalent in Christchurch in January.

For the girl who started riding when she was 5, she had a distinctive path to follow — those of her siblings.

Sister Maia, now a 14-year-old at Karamu High School, went on to become a 10-year-old world champion in Auckland in 2013 and two-time Australian age-group champion (2012-13).

Brothers Mason, 16, a Hastings Boys High pupil, and Thomas, 12, a second-year Hastings Intermediate pupil, also ride competitively.

"It was a fast sport and on some nights we just had fun when you could do anything and we could all do it as a family," said Savage, whose family lived in Brisbane, where she was born, but moved here when she was 8.

She is hoping to compete at the UCI BMX World Championship in Huesden-Zolder, Belgium, in June next year.

Colman, an estimator with Strong Aluminium, said the world championship in Baku, Azerbaijan, early this June was too soon for her daughter to raise enough funds.

Renae Colman Savage, of Hastings Intermediate School, has been working hard on her BMX skills for the past 12 months. Photo / Warren Buckland
Renae Colman Savage, of Hastings Intermediate School, has been working hard on her BMX skills for the past 12 months. Photo / Warren Buckland

No doubt Savage will make the most of her experience at a new venue during the transtasman test in June with the four-male and four-female NZ contingent.

"I just want to race well for my country and do the best I can," she said, hoping her achievements will inspire other girls to emulate her feat.

Waite's son, Tyler, of Hastings, is a travelling reserve in the team.

Adding to Savage's excitement is the opportunity to face the Aussies to perform a haka before displaying their prowess on the Sydney tracks.

Despite her parents' undying support, the Hastings youngster has had to put in the hard yards for the past 12 months to come this far.

That included the admirable qualities of discipline to stay fit and healthy to achieve her goals.

Savage's parents are hopeful that those attributes will become pivotal in defining her as an individual not just through her educational pursuits, such as applying to become head girl next year, but also in the game of life.

The schoolgirl is hoping to secure some form of sponsorship, with any fundraising she does, to help her foot some bills to Sydney and Belgium.