CHESTERMERE -When Justin and Daina Tuchscherer first got their hands on BMX racing bikes, they could only have imagined where the sport might take them.
Last month, it gave them an opportunity to head overseas to compete in the 2011 BMX Worlds in Copenhagen, Denmark. The event – which ran from July 27 to 31 – put them up against 2,200 other BMX riders from 38 countries, who raced for gold in 44 challenge classes and four elite classes.
Mom Tina Tuchscherer said that both kids put forward tons of effort and raced their hardest.
“Justin fought hard for a top position and pulled out all his skills ,but it just wasn’t his day,” she said. “Daina was rewarded for her hard work and received a bronze medal on the podium.
“It was definitely an experience of a life time for all of us.”
Justin, now 16, went shopping for a bike with his dad when he was five-years-old, and came home with a BMX racing bike and full gear. When Daina turned three, she was ready to ride, and by four she was already eager to start racing. Both have been hooked ever since, enjoying jumping the obstacles, racing, riding new tracks and hanging out with their friends at the track.
“They have friends all over the world so it was great to go all the way to Copenhagen for a new and exciting experience and still be familiar with people,” Tuchscherer said. “Basically they both just like riding their bikes a lot, the racing is secondary.”
This is their second time competing at the Worlds, as they attended the 2007 BMX Worlds in Victoria, B.C. Justin was 12-years-old and placed in the top 16, and Daina was 10-years-old and placed second on the podium for 10 year old girls.
Tuchscherer said that BMX is a great sport because you can start riding at any age. She said that the earlier a rider starts, the easier it is to develop more advanced skills.
“I can’t guarantee you will go to the Olympics but you can sure have a lot of fun with it,” she said. “There are a lot of parents that actually started racing after the their kids were in the sport for a year or two, just because it looks like fun.”
Justin is a member of the Alberta Bicycle Performance Team as well as the B&P Cycle Team. Daina is on the Alberta Bicycle Development Team and the Crupi Alberta Team. The pair spend about 30 hours per week training between both BMX, and their other sport, gymnastics.
As far as how they earned the opportunity to go to Copenhagen, Daina qualified by winning the 2010 Canadian National BMX Championships in Airdrie, and Justin qualified by placing third.
“Each country is allowed to send their top 16 riders in each challenge class or age group. This year there were six challenge riders that went, including Justin and Daina,” Tuchscherer said. “We were lucky because Daina won both the Alberta Sport Recreation and Wilderness grant and the Calgary Booster club grant, which helped to fund her training, trip and race fees.
“If not for the grants I don’t believe we would have been able to swing it.”
Tuchscherer said that Daina found Copenhagen to be amazing, and that it was good experience because she found all the girls had a mutual respect for each other, and for their skills and speed.
“Justin wasn’t feeling 100 per cent ready going into the competition and was surprised at how fast the boys were in his group,” she said. “It was good to see where he needs to be and how much work there’s still to do to be competitive at a world level.”
She said that both of them quickly made friends with other riders, and that both are taking the experience in stride and looking forward to the future. The next worlds competition will be 2012 Birmingham, England, which Daina is looking to attend. Justin is going to see how his new training program goes this winter before he will commit to the 2013 Worlds in New Zealand.
“I am really awestruck by any worlds event and proud to be Canadian when watching,” Tuchscherer said. “To have your kids participating in a world event puts you over the moon.”