May 27/08 8:18 am - Canadians are Medal Hopefuls at BMX World Championships
Posted by Editoress on 05/27/08
BMX World Championships
Canada fields 11-member team for BMX cycling world championships
Olympic medal hopeful Samantha Cools of Airdrie, Alta., headlines an 11-member Canadian team for the BMX cycling world championships set for May 31 in Taiyuan, China.
The competition is the last Olympic qualifying event and Cools is favored to earn a nomination to the Canadian Olympic team. She earned the country a spot by accumulating points in the nation's rankings with her past performances.
The 22-year-old, currently ranked fourth in the world, is already a world championship and world junior championship medallist and is building towards adding an Olympic medal to that collection later this summer in Beijing where BMX makes its debut as a full medal sport.
She will be joined on the women's team by Canadian champion Christine Miller of Airdrie, Kaila Sweeney of Calgary, Danielle Brisson of Chilliwack, B.C., and junior Brookelyn Wilkinson of Abbotsford, B.C.
Scott Erwood of Abbotsford, fresh from his Canadian title, leads the men's squad with Jim Brown of Airdrie, Patrick Lebel of Calgary, Alex Sailor of Calgary and juniors Michael Irwin of Surrey, B.C., and Joey Trudeau of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.
Brown, Lebel and Irwin had been pre-selected to the team prior to nationals but Erwood, who broke his wrist last August and missed five months of racing, needed to win at nationals because he hadn't acquired enough points to secure a berth.
Erwood was the top Canadian at last year's worlds in Victoria, reaching the quarter-finals and finishing 27th overall.
The Canadian men will battle for one of six berths available at worlds for the 32-rider Olympic field. Twenty-four have already qualified and two more will be selected as wild cards by the International Cycling Union (UCI).
National team BMX coach Tanya Dubnicoff admits it's a long trip for a short event but she says her troops will benefit from the experience.
"Most of our team are experienced travellers," said Dubnicoff. "This is certainly another big step. This year we've seen our riders rise to a new level and the timing is right for them to head to one of the biggest events of their careers. It is an important building block towards the next stages of their careers."
All the junior and elite racing events take place on Saturday May 31.