25 Jul 2015

Walker back on the podium

12:18 pm on 25 July 2015

New Zealand's BMX Olympic silver medallist Sarah Walker has grabbed a bronze medal in the Super Time Trial at the UCI BMX World Championship in Belgium.

It was a jump into the unknown overnight, with Walker competing in her first major international race in nine months, after a serious crash in the USA last year.

Sarah Walker of New Zealand competes during the Women Elite Time Trials Final. UCI BMX World Championships, Vector Arena, Auckland, New Zealand. Saturday 27th July 201

Sarah Walker in the solo time trial at the BMX World Championships in Auckland, 2013 Photo: Photosport

She spent the nine months recovering and rebuilding from a broken arm and head injuries.

Walker, who said she was unsure of her abilities against the best in the world after time away from the circuit, was fifth fastest in her first run in 36.627s to qualify for the Super Time Trial.

She went faster in the second run in 36.365s to displace her close Dutch friend Laura Smulders in the leader's chair before American Alise Post pipped her. After defending Australian champion Caroline Buchanan went slower and with only Pajon to follow, Walker knew she was on the podium.

"It's quite overwhelming. It's been such a long way back and I've had to go through so much, and had no idea how things were going to pan out so it was quite different to what I am used to," Walker said.

Sarah Walker

Sarah Walker Photo: Photosport

"Today I was really happy with two good laps and after a long time off racing. "After everything I've gone through, I feel like this medal probably means the most to me of all the medals I've won."

"What I did really well was to get really good track speed around the rest of the track but I know there are quite a few girls who finished behind me in the time trial who have really good first straight speed.

"Tomorrow I will need to be quite smart and quite patient and use my track speed to do as well as I can.

Walker led a strong performance from the New Zealand riders in the time trial ahead of the elimination racing at the new circuit in Zolder, within the former Formula One race circuit.

Trent Jones produced an outstanding qualifying lap to be eighth fastest although made a mistake in his second run in the Super Time Trial run where he was 15th, while fellow Canterbury rider Daniel Franks was 25th and Marc Willers cruised his lap to be 66th fastest.

Rebecca Petch, who rides for Walker's sponsored team, was an outstanding sixth in her first year in the junior elites, while fellow Te Awamutu riders Codi Merito and Cole McOnie were 19th and 30th fastest respectively.

The time trial carries separate world championship status with Colombia's Olympic gold medallist Mariana Pajon repeating the elite women's victory she won in Auckland two years ago, and 2011 World Champion Joris Daudet of France won the men's final.

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