Bay of Plenty BMX riders are among the top 11-year-olds in their sport in New Zealand - and with their New Zealand Mighty 11s BMX teammates, they're looking to claim a double win over rivals across the ditch.
The New Zealand junior team, made up of the country's top 11-year-old riders, currently hold the boys' team trophy while the Australians are the girls champions. Each team includes four male and four female riders, with the girls' team featuring Bay of Plenty riders including Tauranga's Hannah Mason and Rotorua's Kate Hastings. Fellow Rotorua rider Bellah Birchall is a reserve for the girls' team.
The teams leave for Australia tomorrow to allow the New Zealand team to spend next week preparing for the Mighty 11s transtasman cultural exchange, hosted in Australia by BMX New South Wales. Teams will compete in five motos on June 8 and 9 at Maitland BMX Club in New South Wales.
In addition to the test team racing, all New Zealand riders will compete in an open class event with riders the same age.
Hannah, a member of the Tauranga BMX Club, says being a part of the Mighty 11s is a great opportunity.
"The Mighty 11s means you get picked to compete against the Aussies. They usually beat us and this year we want to get them and get both the trophies for the boys and girls," Hannah says.
"As well as making Mighty 11s, I also was third in New Zealand in my age group and won the North Island [title] last year."
Like most in the sport, the path to high-level competition has beginnings in simply having fun on the bike.
"I do BMX because I like meeting new people and hanging out with my friends," Hannah says.
"You get to improve in many different ways, it is quite a technical sport but everyone can help you and it is a good community thing."
BMX New Zealand executive Dion Earnest says the event is about 30 years old, started as a memorial event after a rider died in a car crash in Australia in the 1980s.
"The Mighty 11s is a memorial to the rider, to inspire all future 11-year-olds to live their life to the fullest," Earnest says.
"Due to the long history, the transtasman event is held in very high regard and is one of the key performance goals for many riders as they grow through the sport.
"It is the first time for growing racers that BMX NZ will select riders to represent New Zealand through a trial process, which heightens the challenge to make the team and then to work harder to race the Aussies in the test event.
"BMX is the cycling code where many cyclists start their time on two wheels. There are many road, track or mountain bike racers at elite levels that started in BMX and a few that have their names on the Mighty 11s trophies too."
New Zealand Mighty 11 teams:
Lily Greenough, Cambridge (captain).
Hannah Mason, Tauranga.
Tahlia Nelson, Alexandra.
Kate Hastings, Rotorua.
Reserve: Bellah Birchall, Rotorua.
Finn Cogan, East City (captain).
Korban Manava, Capital.
Cooper Richardson, North Harbour.
Tyler Dinsdale, Whangarei.
Reserve: Noah Walker, Cambridge.
Coach: Clive Telford.
Manager: Sharon Cheesman.