Gosport rider Ayesha McLelland has set her sights on a podium place at this week’s World Championships in Holland.
The 20-year-old is riding in the 17-plus age group at the prestigious event in Rotterdam, where riders from elite level through to challenger and juniors will be taking part from tomorrow until Sunday.
McLelland is being sponsored by her employers Snows MINI in Portsmouth, which is allowing her to follow her dream of becoming the number one BMXer in the world.
The talented extreme sports star will receive financial help to train, travel and compete abroad.
Fresh from her success on the European circuit, where she beat the reigning champion and the world number one, McLelland is relishing the prospect of testing herself against the top BMX riders in the world.
‘When you race in nationals and the UK, you race the same girls every year,’ she said.
‘So it’s good to compare yourself against other riders from different countries.
‘The Europeans were good preparation to see what I was like against them.
‘Going into the World Championships with a European round win has definitely made me a more confident.’
The talented rider did not lose a lap and won both her finals, putting her at number six in the European rankings.
There will be 62 riders in her category and three qualifiers, where she will be racing the same people each time.
The aim is to finish top four in each race in order to make the semi-final, with the top eight riders then going on to make the final on Friday.
McLelland said: ‘In 2012 I made the final in my age group and got up to world number four, so I’m hoping to get to the final again.
‘It would be awesome to become world number one.
‘I have been involved in BMX racing since I was 14 but the World Championships will be my biggest challenge yet.
‘It is my dream to stand on the podium and therefore I have had to be dedicated.’
However, she warned: ‘BMX is such a risky sport and anything can happen.’
McLelland trains six days a week at the Gosport track, juggling work and college and she is grateful for MINI’s support.
‘It’s a very expensive sport and MINI have taken that pressure off me, so I can concentrate on what I’m good at and not have to worry about travel and accommodation,’ she said.
In the short time she has been competing in the extreme sport, McLelland has been British champion and came fourth in the 2012 World Championships in Birmingham.
She said: ‘I just love the adrenaline of a 30 to 40-second race, going as fast as I can.
‘There’s the physical aspect – the jumps and being close to seven other people on the track – but it’s also mental because you have to think about your next move.’
After serving on the British Cycling Olympic Talent Team in 2009-10, McLelland also enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carry the London 2012 Olympic torch through her hometown of Gosport.