Story by REDintern Mai A Malek. Photos by Tan Jon Han/Red Sports
Yoshitaku Nagasako (Japan #1) hangs in the air for almost 3 full seconds while leaping over a jump. The Japanese rider blazed past his compatriot on the second turn in the final to clinch victory as Japan completed a clean sweep of the top three positions for the Junior Men’s BMX race. (Photo 1 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Tampines Bike Park, Sunday, May 30, 2010 — Japanese riders ruled the newly-constructed BMX arena at this year’s Singapore Mountain Bike Carnival in the Juniors 20″ BMX Race by stealing all three top spots in the junior men’s category and also the gold medal in the junior women’s category.
Yoshitaku Watanabe came in first, followed by his Japanese compatriots Jukia Yoshimura and Ryosuke Furuhata in the junior men’s category while in the junior women’s category, Kaede Watanabe of Japan clinched the top spot for her country. Indonesia’s Kharisma Novanda Elga claimed the silver medal and Nasthasia Nadiah A Nazzeer of Singapore came in third.
Riders had to go through a time trial before proceeding to the knockout rounds comprising of three stages, and eventually the final round. All six female riders qualified for the finals but it was down to seven riders in the junior men’s category.
As the gantry went down with a snap during the first round of the junior women’s category, Japan’s Kaede Watanabe took off with her amazing speed, with Kharisma Novanda Elga of Indonesia trying to tail her. The other four female riders struggled to catch up.
Nasthasia Nadiah, Team Singapore’s representative at the YOG, completed the first round shortly after the two leaders, followed by another rider from Japan, Manami Iwade. Siriluck Warapiang and Rimma Luchshenko from Thailand and Kazakhstan trailed after the first round.
The same result followed through the second and third rounds, with the Singaporean rider almost being overtaken by Thailand’s Siriluck Warapiang at the last five metres of in Round 2.
The riders kept with their positions till the final round, with Japan’s Watanabe holding on for the victory. Indonesia’s Elga finished a mere three seconds behind the Japanese, while Singapore’s Nasthasia Nadiah took the third spot, lucky to have avoided a photo-finish with Japan’s other rider, Iwade.
“It was a good show, really,” said Mdm Mazlina Assap, a family friend to Team Singapore YOG rider, Nasthasia Nadiah.
“I really enjoyed watching the race although I don’t really ride much. I have always been giving my fullest support to Baby,” she added, referring to the friendly and lovable Singaporean rider who is known as Baby to her dear ones.
In the Junior Men’s category, it boiled down to seven riders after three knockout rounds. The line-up comprised of the Japanese trio of Yoshitaku Nagasako, Jukia Yoshimura and Ryosuke Furuhata, Kazakhstan’s Vadim Galeyev and Nurlan Duisenov, Thailand’s Jularayech Wichana, and Alvin Phoon of Singapore. Singaporean William Chan and Team Malaysia’s Sabah’s L Lauridsen Adrian failed to secure their positions in the final round.
When the gantry went down, the Japanese trio zoomed ahead of the others with a much faster reaction time, and it was no surprise to see members of the crowd jumping to their feet and fishing out their cameras to capture all the action.
Initially, Japan’s Yoshimura took the lead with his fellow countrymen following closely behind, but the prime of the race which got the whole crowd whooping in amazement was when Watanabe overtook Yoshimura very smoothly and discreetly at the first bend, which is seen as a very dangerous and risky stunt.
The rookie then went on with his perfect wheelies, sped across another two bends, and finally paddled his way through the homestretch and punched his fist up in the air as he steadily crossed the finish line. His fellow mate Yoshimura, who initially took the lead, trailed in about two seconds later, followed by Furuhata. Thailand’s Wichana led the chasing pack comprising of Singaporean Alvin Phoon and the Kazakhstan duo.
It was a close fight between Phoon and Galeyev at the end as the latter crossed the finish line a fraction of a second ahead of the Singaporean rider to relegate him to second last placing.
Earlier in the morning, the residents of Tampines, the spectators, and competitors of the Singapore Mountain Bike Carnival were greeted by a group of cheerleading varsity students from the National University of Singapore. Calling themselves Alpha Verve, the NUS cheerleading team and those present at the scene ushered in Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Home Affairs, with some song and dance to the tunes of the YOG cheer.
Said Phoebe Quek, team manager of Alpha Verve, “We came really early just to ra-ra the crowd. I am amazed at how they got so hyped up even before the riders took centre stage.” The bubbly 21-year-old added that her team was quite taken aback when they noticed the ministers and grassroots leaders present taking part in the cheer.
Mr Masagos came specially to the event to unveil the venue plaque for the Tampines Bike Park, which is the official ground for the mountain bike and BMX races for the upcoming YOG. The carnival kicked off on Saturday, May 29, 2010 with a mountain bike cross-country (XCO) race and a 12-hour mountain bike off-road marathon which flagged off in the evening and ended at 5am on Sunday morning.
Juniors BMX 20″ Race Results
Junior Women’s BMX 20″
1st — Kaede Watanabe (Japan #16)
2nd — Kharisma Novanda Elga (Indonesia #19)
3rd — Nasthasia Nadiah A Nazzeer (Singapore #22)
4th — Manami Iwade (Japan #23)
5th — Siriluck Warapiang (Thailand #18)
6th — Rimma Luchshenko (Kazakhstan #17)
Junior Men’s BMX 20″
1st — Yoshitaku Watanabe (Japan #1)
2nd — Jukia Yoshimura (Japan #2)
3rd — Ryosuke Furuhata (Japan #3)
4th — Jularayech Wichana (Thailand #6)
5th — Vadim Galeyev (Kazakhstan #4)
6th — Alvin Phoon (Singapore #10)
7th — Nurlan Duisenov (Kazakhstan #5)
Riders moving off from the starting gates during the warm-up rounds. (Photo 2 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Kaede Watanabe (Japan #16) leaves her competitors in her wake. The teenager dominated her runs in the build up to the final with her quick acceleration and sleek manualing of the race course. (Photo 3 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Kharisma Novanda Elga (Indonesia #19) leads the rest of the pack in playing catchup with Kaede Watanabe (Japan #16) in the final. (Photo 4 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Nasthasia Nadiah A Nazzeer (Singapore #22) is followed closely by Siriluck Warapiang (Thailand #18) and Manami Iwade (Japan #23) as she exits the last turn. The Singaporean representative held on for the last stretch to finish third. (Photo 5 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Jukia Yoshimura (Japan #2) flying high on his baby-blue bike. The Japanese rider was consistently coming in first for most of his runs throughout the day … (Photo 6 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
… but is overtaken by Yoshitaku Nagasako (Japan #1), who out-paddled him through the inner corner in the final. (Photo 7 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Two riders engage in a battle of their own along the second horseshoe turn of the course. (Photo 8 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Jularayech Wichana (Thailand #6) leads the chasing pack behind the Japanese trio. (Photo 9 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Alvin Phoon (#10 Singapore) battles with Vadim Galeyev (#4 Kazakhstan) at the finish for track position. The latter crossed the finish line a fraction of a second ahead of the Singaporean rider to relegate him to second last placing. (Photo 10 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Winners of the BMX Junior Womens’ category — from left, Kharisma Novanda Elga (Indonesia #19), Kaede Watanabe (Japan #16) and Nasthasia Nadiah A Nazzeer (Singapore #22). (Photo 11 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Winners of the BMX Junior Mens’ category — the Japanese trio of (from left) Yoshitaku Watanabe (Japan #1), Jukia Yoshimura (Japan #2) and Ryosuke Furuhata (Japan #3). (Photo 12 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)