27 Sep 2015

Walker, Jones make semis

6:32 pm on 27 September 2015

Trent Jones and Sarah Walker were the best of four New Zealand BMX riders who qualified for the elimination races at the World Cup Supercross in South Carolina.

Sarah Walker, 2011.

Sarah Walker, 2011. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Trent Jones and Sarah Walker have closed their season by making the semi-finals at the final round of the UCI BMX World Cup Supercross in South Carolina.

Walker, who injured her back after a fall in training earlier in the week, recovered from fifth in the first heat of the elimination motos to be second in the other two rides behind Australian Caroline Buchanan.

Walker directly qualified for the semis, where she drew the middle lane. However she missed the snap out of the gate and with it a chance to reach her first Super Cross final in more than two years.

However it did mark a strong return for Walker, who was among the fastest in training and qualifying and close to being back at the top of the sport.

"A few days ago we did not think she would even be racing, so to come away with a semifinal is excellent," said Cycling New Zealand BMX coach Ryan Hollows. "Sure she missed the gate in the final but overall Sarah is tracking well and her return to the top level of the sport has been impressive."

Jones was one of the fastest riders throughout the competition and was again impressive in the elimination motos, with two wins and a second to top his qualifying group.

The North Canterbury rider, now based in the USA where he trains with multi world champion Sam Willoughby, was slightly slower out of the gate in the quarter-finals but cut under world champion Niek Kimmann on the first turn with a superb move to finish second behind Willoughby.

He was again a fraction slow on the snap out of the gate in his semi, then was cut off for the first turn by Australian Anthony Dean. After taking evasive action, Jones was then out of any serious running for a top four placing and a place in what would have been his first Supercross final.

"Trent was definitely looking for his first final and he is disappointed to miss it," said Hollows. "At the same time he has finished the season healthy, as one of the fastest riders and learning every day."

Jones finished 20th on the World Cup rankings and Walker has risen to 18th.

Both riders are within one percent of the world's best in their times and both are tracking well towards qualification for Rio.

Earlier team-mates Matt Cameron and Dan Franks both missed out on the quarters in the elimination rounds.

Walker, Jones and Franks now head to Rio for the Olympic test event next weekend.

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