The BMX Supercross track at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) is currently swarming with talented young athletes from all over the world.
The aim is to detect young riders who have the potential to follow in the footsteps of the UCI WCC’s successful trainees such as Rio 2016 bronze medallist Stefany Hernandez.
For two weeks, 26 athletes from 16 countries are training at the centre in Aigle, Switzerland, under the watchful eye of UCI WCC Coach Thomas Allier and New Zealander Matt Cameron, himself a former UCI WCC trainee who also coaches in New Zealand. The most promising will be invited to join the centre’s high-level training group next year.
“This is a first full-scale BMX talent identification camp held at the WCC for a long time and it is very exciting,” said the centre’s High Performance Manager Belinda Tarling. “We are observing the athletes very closely, not only their sporting abilities but also their behaviour.
“We have to ask ourselves if they are ready to be coached at a high level.”
As well as being put through their paces on the BMX Supercross track, they are being tested in the UCI WCC Laboratory of Sport and Physiology which enables the centre’s experts to analyse each athlete’s morphology, physiological dispositions, technical ability and strength.
Some of the athletes, who are aged between 16 and 21, were nominated for the talent ID camp by their National Federations. Others had already come to Allier’s notice at international competitions.
“We are seeing athletes from all levels,” confirms the UCI WCC coach. “After one week you can already tell which of them could go on to succeed at international level. Physical fitness can be trained up, but if they do not already have the technical ability and aptitude at Junior level, then it is too late,” he said.
“We are also observing their psychological approach and their motivation. We are looking for athletes with a fighting spirit who don’t just give up when things get tough.”
And it is definitely a tough two weeks for the 26 hopefuls, who have been propelled into an intensive routine of two training sessions a day, unheard of until now for the majority.
Despite the differences in their levels, aspirations and backgrounds, the riders are making the most of the camp and forging friendships.
“Some of them were a bit overwhelmed when they arrived and others were more relaxed. But very quickly there was a team spirit which is something I have always observed in my six years coaching at the UCI WCC. The athletes are always united.”
While Allier already has a firm idea of who will be invited to train at the UCI WCC, he will not look too far into the future:
“We will fix immediate goals for those who train here, such as the UCI World Cup and UCI World Championships,” says Allier before adding:
“But any athlete who is selected to join our trainees will no doubt have Tokyo 2020 in the corner of their minds…”
The UCI WCC’s drive to continue the growth of BMX does not stop there: three participants from South Africa, Singapore and Chile are currently on a four-week BMX-specific coaching course.
The presence of raw talent at the UCI World Cycling Centre is giving them the perfect opportunity, guided by our Allier and Cameron, to put their skills into practice