Canadian rider Samantha Cools took out the honours on the first day of the North Island BMX Championships in Cambridge today.
Cools has just arrived in the country to train under her coach and brother, Ken Cools, who is the BikeNZ BMS national coach.
World champion Sarah Walker and fellow Beijing Olympian Marc Willis were ruled out of the event with injury.
After Queensland junior Melinda McLeod dominated the heats, Cools showed her experienced to won the first day finals ahead of Cambridge junior Elyse Imber with the Australian third.
Cools, in her first competition back after a serious crash in Europe, was fourth in the first moto, second in the next and won her final moto to progress to the final, while McLeod impressed in winning all three of her motos.
There was local support in the elite men’s final with Kurt James claiming the first day honours in the final ahead of fellow Cambridge club rider Tim Ferguson with three riders crashing out in the final.
Christchurch’s Daniel Franks won the junior men’s final ahead of two Australians, Graeme Mudd and Adam Shields after pre-race favourite Trend Woodcock (Sunset Coast) crashed in the heats and did not make the final.
There is a further day of racing tomorrow.
North Island BMX Championships day 1 finals:
Elite women: Samantha Cools (Canada) 1, Elyse Imber (Queensland) 2, Melindi McLeod (Queensland) 3.
Elite men: Kurt James (Cambridge) 1, Tim Ferguson (Cambridge) 2, Andrew McKenzie (Rangiora) 3.
Junior men: Daniel Franks (North Avon) 1, Graeme Mudd (NSW) 2, Adam Shields (Queensland) 3.