Sport

Hayden Fletcher leads local contingent at BMX National Championships

By Aydin Payne

Shepparton BMX club rider Hayden Fletcher will be out to clinch victory in front of his home fans this weekend when the BMXA Bad Boy National Championships start.

Australia’s top riders will descend on Shepparton BMX Club, for today’s BMXA Pro Spectacular event and Saturday’s championship event.

Leading the local contingent is Fletcher, 20, who is aiming to secure his first national championship when he takes to his home track.

It won’t be the first time he has raced at the redeveloped course, having won the Shepparton BMX Open in March.

‘‘I’m looking forward to this weekend, racing at the home track with my family and friends watching on,’’ Fletcher said.

‘‘It’s always nice when you have people cheering you on, it just makes it that little bit more exciting when you’re out there.’’

Fletcher is coming off a fourth and sixth at the most recent BMXA National Series event in Queensland, but sits in first position on the Superclass leaderboard.

He has also starred in his two UCI (international sporting body) elite men’s series events held this year, wedged in third spot with one round of UCI racing left.

After a quick trip to visit the European circuit, the speed-demon has been back home at Howqua, gearing up for his tilt at the national championships.

‘‘It’s been really good, I’ve had just over two weeks at home just training and riding, which allowed me to come and ride at Shepparton and test out the new 8m starting ramp,’’ Fletcher said.

‘‘That ramp is pretty gnarly, but I’ve just been over in Europe and every track had those big monsters at the opening ramp, so it’s good to have that recent experience.

‘‘It’s like a big party when you race over in Europe, there’s just loud music at each event, which can make it pretty hard to concentrate on the gates.’’

Fletcher’s season has already welcomed a win in the superclass series’ opening round in Sydney, which was followed by podium finishes at the second and third events.

Despite his success in the first half of the year, Fletcher said there were no guarantees out on the track and any error could spell disaster.

‘‘I’ve been consistent this year with a few podium finishes, but it’s BMX racing, there are no guarantees because the tiniest error can result with you bombing out,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve just got to focus on doing my thing and tick the boxes throughout the day and see if I can make the final, anything can happen.’’

When asked what winning the national title would mean to him, Fletcher recounted one recent memory from his under-16 event.

‘‘In 2014 I led the under-16s national championships here at Shepparton for the entire race, but in the final metres I was overtaken and missed out on the championship,’’ he said.

‘‘I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it (winning the title).

‘‘The other day I was riding in Shepparton and I crossed the finish line imagining what it would be like if I won the national title.

‘‘I don’t think I could describe it, it would be such a surreal feeling and something I’ve worked hard for all my life.’’