No putting brakes on new breed of Irish BMX riders
IT’S A balmy evening in Ratoath, Co Meath, and not far from from the hustle of the village, kids in green Ireland jerseys are whipping through the air.
These are the Irish BMX team. They have just returned from the World Championships in Birmingham, England, the first major BMX titles Irish riders have contested since the sport’s first incarnation died here in the 1980s.
More than 500 riders are now signed up to Ratoath BMX Club. Its new track is buzzing every time it opens, and Ireland’s leading rider, Kelvin Batey, is still in with a chance of qualifying for the London Olympics.
Just eight months after racing was relaunched in the Republic, BMX is in rude health.
Among the riders whizzing over the jumps this evening are 17-year-old Alex Holiday, under-14 riders Aaron Edwards and Jake Lynch and six-year-old Corey Waller; all of whom rode in Birmingham for Ireland.
Waller progressed as far as the quarter-finals in the large international field in his age group,
and is now ranked 21st in the world.
“It’s all his own doing – none of us are even into bikes,” says his father Derek, who is from Kill, Co Kildare.
“Even when he was only two, he was flying over ramps on a bike and he was still on stabilisers at that stage.”
The boy wonder himself said he was delighted to ride “the worlds and stuff”.
Holiday, a 17-year-old from Ratoath, is perhaps the most exciting prospect in Ireland and has already attracted sponsorship.
“It was definitely very competitive at the worlds; that start gate opens and it’s just ‘Go’, and you battle all the way,” he says.