Shepparton BMX Club members are once again taking on the world.
Following his elevation to world champion status at last year’s BMX World Championships in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Gian Renato will look to defend his crown at this year’s event.
Fellow Shepparton rider Jamie Mahuika, 24, will join Renato on the trip to Baku, Azerbaijan, for his first world title event in almost a decade.
Renato, 13, claimed victory in the 13 years boys’ race last year and will now have a target on his back in the 14 years battle next week.
But the young star is ready for the challenge in front of him despite an interrupted preparation.
‘‘I had a few hiccups, but just kept training and kept at it and hopefully my form’s pretty good,’’ Renato said.
‘‘I’m feeling really confident and excited, I definitely want to be back on top again, but I just have to stay concentrated.’’
Mahuika turns 25 on Tuesday — just two days before his championship event — meaning he will race in the men’s 25-29 category.
‘‘My birthday is on the day that we leave to go over there, so I’ll go up into the next category,’’ Mahuika said.
‘‘I haven’t done a world title since I was probably 16 years old, so it’s been a while.
‘‘I can’t wait, I’ve been training hard and my form’s been pretty good lately, I’ve had a few good riders and people coming up to me saying I’m doing pretty well.
‘‘I’ve really been putting my head down for the last few months for this race and it’s just been great.’’
The current weather in Baku is hovering about 30°C, but Mahuika and Renato will only have about a day to settle into their new surroundings before attempting to snare success.
‘‘We head off on Tuesday and we don’t race until Thursday, we’re both on the same day,’’ Mahuika said.
‘‘We’ll get over there, get used to the warm weather over there and just hopefully we can really concentrate and bring home gold.’’
On the home front, continued upgrades to Shepparton’s track have both boys in high spirits.
‘‘It’s unreal,’’ Mahuika said.
‘‘The resurfacing of the whole track, getting lights and everyone putting a good hand in it’s turned out to be a really good track.
‘‘I can’t wait for the 8m hill to start, so it will be really good riding here in Shepp.’’