Australian Saya Sakakibara wins ‘surreal’ maiden BMX world title

Saya Sakakibara, pictured in June, has triumphed in Argentina to win her first BMX World Cup title.

Saya Sakakibara, pictured in June, has triumphed in Argentina to win her first BMX World Cup title. Photo: Getty

Australia’s Saya Sakakibara says it’s surreal to have won the BMX World Cup a year after almost quitting the sport.

The 24-year-old won her fifth World Cup event of the season on Saturday to be crowned the overall women’s No.1.

Sakakibara earned her first global title when she reached the semi-final in the season finale in Santiago del Estero, Argentina.

The Queenslander then triumphed in her semi-final, and followed up to win the final, to emphatically underline her champion status.


The result caps a remarkable comeback for Sakakibara, who suffered head injuries in a horror crash at the Tokyo Olympics of 2021.

She took an extended break from competition after her semi-final crash in Japan left her with lingering concussion symptoms.

She was riding with added motivation for her brother Kai, who suffered a shocking BMX race injury of his own in February 2020 and was in a coma for two months with severe brain trauma.

Sakakibara said after her struggles, her world title means “everything”.

“This time last year I was in the lowest of the lows,” she said.

“I definitely thought of giving up altogether. I really didn’t think it was worth the risk.

“But I am so happy that I brought out the courage and gave it one more red-hot go and it really paid off.

“When I was at home with my concussion this time last year, I never would have thought that I would win this overall and have such a successful season.”

Olympic champion Bethany Shriever from Great Britain finished second overall while Frenchman Romain Mahieu won the men’s world title.


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