The BMX National Team that represented South Africa at the 2016 UCI BMX World Championships in Medellin, Colombia, from 25 to 29 May, have returned home to proud supporters and with a World Number.
Newly crowned World Number Three, Tyrone Johns, said: “The BMX World Champs was a wonderfully South American experience. It’s always good to go to South America as it is so festive and the crowds are loud and create one of the best atmospheres to race in in the world. The BMX racing down in South America is also of a very good quality but they don't believe in racing in straight lines and are so erratic and crazy in the berms – it’s just not what we are used to.”
Johns said his Cruiser racing went well and that he had reasonably easy Motos and progressed through to the semi-finals without a problem. “Semi-finals at a World Champs are the most intense races of the day. Eight guys on the gate, only four go through and the other four have to watch the Final from the stands. I had a great first straight in my Semi Final and got into the lead. A French rider cut underneath me in the second turn and we were side by side and I managed to pull ahead until he cut under me again in the last turn. This is where experience comes in and I just let him go settling into second as I realised we had a huge gap in third and fourth and there is no point in doing anything silly in a Semi and maybe crashing when I could stay on my bike and battle it out in the Final,” said Johns.
Johns enjoyed his Final race but didn’t feel it went as well as he’d have liked. “I had a great first straight but got held up trying to block the same French rider from coming past that two riders on the outside got a gap on me. Although I tried to catch the guys in front of me, I had to race defensively as well. I was happy to get up on the podium – it’s always a great feeling to come home with some silverware and a World Plate,” he said.
Johns ended by extending his gratitude to everybody who got him to and back from the World Championship. “It was one of the best World Championships I have ever been to. It was so South American - so crazy but so worth it,” he said.
Riding in the Elite Men’s category, Kyle Dodd had his best finish at a World Championship yet. He said: “Wow what a trip and these flights are just draining. But I can't complain on how my riding went.”
Dodd mentioned that there’s no comparison to viewing a track and riding on it. “Looking at the track from the stands you get a good idea of the size of everything and the lines you want to use, but when you actually get onto the track, everything looks a whole lot bigger when it's right in front of you,” he said.
The intermittent rain proved to be only minor setbacks for the teams, as they used that time to strategize. The South African Elite Men’s Champion knew just what he needed to work on, and got straight to it on day two. “After another hour and 20 minutes’ practice, whatever you didn't have fixed would have to fix itself in the Time Trial,” he said.
Dodd cast out his worry about Olympic qualifications from his mind, and decided to go out there and do his best and, at the same time, enjoy himself. “I said my prayers before each race, rode to the best of my ability and left my fate in God's hands. I knew every moto was going to be tough. I went out there, raced my hardest and finished with a fourth and a fifth in the first two qualifiers,” he said.
The riders then had another rain delay and Dodd found himself tie with an Australian rider going into the last race. “I managed to secure myself another fourth in the race which moved me through to the 1/8th finals. I was very happy with myself because this was the first time I had ever gotten out of the qualifiers at a World Championships in the Elite Men category,” he said.
Dodd tried his utmost to focus on the ride and stay on his bike. “After a tough race I managed to finish fifth and missed the quarter finals by one position. It was a tough day of racing but I was pleased with my performance. It was the furthest I had ever gotten, I raced hard and put everything out there with nothing to regret.”
Dodd was happy with his results at the weekend. “I just want to send out a huge thank you to Cycling South Africa, BMX SA and Margot Gerber for all their help and support over the years in my career. My parents and brother for their continued support and sacrifices that they have made to get me where I am - I could never have done anything without them. And last but not least, my coach and best friend, Jonnathan Chislett, for all his hard work, dedication and motivation over the period of the Olympic cycle, who kept pushing me to carry on and whatever the outcome, I'm truly thankful for all he has done,” he concluded.