By Keith Lacey
Despite his young age, Brody McLean has battled against the best young BMX racers in Canada and the United States and now he’s taking on the best young racers on the planet.
McLean, 9, and his mother Kirsten left Osoyoos recently for Rock Hill, South Carolina where Brody is competing in the Union Cycliste Internationale (ICU) World BMX Championships.
Brody, a national age group champion last year, is competing in two different classes at the world championships – the regulation class featuring race bikes with 20-inch and cruiser class with 24-inch wheels.
There will be 110 competitors from around the world in the age nine regulation class and more than 80 are registered in the cruiser class, which is open to riders age 12.
Team Canada is sending one of the largest contingents of BMX competitors to the world championships with 320 registered, said Brody’s dad Len McLean.
This is truly a world event with young competitors from around the globe, he said.
“Team Australia is sending 275 riders and there will be competitors from across South America, Europe, Asia, Latvia and Russia,” he said. “BMX is a huge sport around the world and all the best kids will be at the world championships.”
Brody heads to the world championships feeling healthy, which is a good thing considering he’s had a bad luck streak recently.
At a competition in Chilliwack in May, he had a severe fever the entire weekend, which didn’t allow him to perform to his best ability, he had a severe cold when he competed at the Vancouver Island competition in early June and crashed and needed stitches at a provincial series event in the Lower Mainland more recently ago.
“He’s had a rough go of it so far this year, but he feels good now and is ready to go,” said his mother.
Brody is so serious about BMX racing that he already has a personal trainer as Jorg Mardian, the owner of 360 Fitness in Osoyoos, has him on a training schedule and he also spends endless hours doing hill climbing and sprints near his home in Osoyoos.
In South Carolina, the point totals accumulated over three preliminary runs determine who moves on to the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals.
All competitors race three times (BMX races are called motos) and they ride with the same group in those three races. At the end of three rounds, the riders in each category with the best overall results qualify for the next round.
Eventually the field is reduced to 16 in the semi-finals and eight for the finals.
“If you crash in the first round, you get another chance to race, but after the first round, if you crash or don’t finish in the top four of eight, then you’re done,” said Len.
While Brody is ultra-competitive and has proven himself to be one of the best young riders in Canada, he and his parents realize he’s battling the very best BMX racers in the world.
“To be honest, this isn’t about winning because out of the 110 riders who will be racing in the regulation class in his age group, Brody has raced against maybe five or six of them,” said Len. “We’re looking at this as an experience he will remember for the rest of his life.
“Not many kids age nine can say they got to compete in a world championships, so being named to Team Canada and being able to represent his country at a big event like this is an opportunity we just couldn’t pass up.”
After the world championships, Brody is going to have a very busy summer as he will be competing in a big event in Kelowna the second weekend in August and then he’s off to the Canadian national championships in Calgary the last weekend in August.
He will also be competing in the provincial championships in Kamloops the second weekend in September.
Brody’s younger brother Zane also competes regularly on the provincial circuit and will be joining his brother at several of the upcoming events.
Brody’s parents couldn’t be prouder of his success.
“The kid lives and breathes BMX,” said Kirsten. “He’s worked really hard to achieve all of his success.”
Len usually travels to big events with Kirsten and Brody, but his construction business is very busy so he can’t make the trip to South Carolina, but he’s cheering him on from Osoyoos.
As Brody continues to get bigger and stronger, he says he’s using this trip to gain experience and he hopes he will continue to excel and improve as his BMX career continues over the next several years.