BMX racer Lauren Anyon looks back on her stunning gold medal success at the World Championships, in Baku, Azerbaijan
BMX race ace Lauren Anyon is feeling on top of the world after winning a stunning gold medal.
The 15-year-old, from Penwortham, was crowned champion in her age category at the prestigious UCI World BMX Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Finding her form at the optimum moment, the youngster upset the odds to race clear in the grand final to claim the crown.
Her success was all the more remarkable considering she just scraped into the semi-final stage by a single point and qualified for the final by taking the last qualifying spot on offer.
However, the All Hallows RC High School pupil showed that she has the temperament for the big occasion by getting the better of the best riders in the world, including reigning champion Marianne Beltrando, of France.
Anyon, who is a three-times British national champion, is hoping her success will now propel her to even greater success in the future – with a tilt at competing at the Olympic Games in the future very much a long-term goal,
The BMX ace – who is currently on her second year with the British Cycling Jnr Academy – admitted it was a dream come true to be crowned world champion.
“It’s amazing, it’s just something I’ve always dreamed of and what I’ve worked towards.
“I started in the sport when my dad’s friend’s son used to do it and he said come down to the track one day and I loved it.
“My goal now is the Olympics in the future.
“I want to get a medal.”
Anyon qualified for this year’s worlds by winning the 2017 National Series, where she raced against girls who were two years older than her, but still managed to seal the title after only seven rounds of the scheduled 12.
Having competed in four previous World Championships, finishing in a very respectable fifth at the last one in Columbia, Anyon headed to Baku in confident mood. However, she as always going to be a very tough competition to win, with the very best women from all over the planet competing.
Her preparation leading up to the race had gone very well, with extra training put on by Blackpool Bmx club, with her training partner and fellow Junior Academy team-mate Imogen Hill pushing her hard.
On arrival in Azerbaijan, Anyon was shocked by the intensity of the hot weather.
“Coming from Lancashire it was like walking in to an oven,” said Anyon, who is trained twice a week at UCLan by Keith McGreggor ,who is the British Cycling coach for strength and conditioning.
“The city of Baku was amazing, from its historic old town to the futuristic new town, it had everything.
“Spotlessly clean and very friendly it made our stay very enjoyable.”
After she had acclimatised to the conditions, Anyon got down to work in practice – adjusting the gearing on her bike to give her the speed she needed to take on the sizeable 400m track.
Seeded eighth, the youngster was hoping for a kind draw in the opening round, but was surprised to find her up against the current World Champion Beltrando and the 2016 champion Valentina Vasquez Bardales, of Columbia
She also had the Australian National Champion and the 2016 World No.4 from Brazil meaning there were going to be some very fast girls going home early as only four out of the eight would move forward to the qualifying rounds.
“It was what you would describe as the group of death,” she said.
Anyon battled through the group and just made it into the semi-finals by the skin of her teeth.
The odds once again appeared to be stacked against the Penwortham rider, but once again she proved the doubters wrong.
“I just felt I was getting better with every race and I started to feel a little less nervous,” she said.
The race turned out to be carnage, with three rider girls getting entangled after a jump and they all crashed out in crumpled heap.
Anyon managed to remain focused to avoid the trouble to safely negotiate her passage through to the final.
Having been placed fourth in the semi-final, the young rider was handed a tough draw in the final where she lined up in gate eight – the hardest position on the start line.
Her father Neil said: “I looked at the world champion in gate one and she looked very nervous – had fear finally got to this multi world champion from France.
“By comparison Lauren looked calm and determined. The call was given ‘’ Riders ready’’ and the beeps followed and Lauren had pushed across and was right behind the leader.
“Could we dream of a top three podium and medal position finish?
After the second straight, Anyon moved into the lead and despite coming under intense pressure from Beltrando, it was Anyon, who crossed the line to claim first to claim gold. “
After celebrating her success, Anyon will continue this year racing in the British National Series and will also compete at the velodrome in track sprint.