News Letter, BMX is in our DNA, say Northern Ireland racers

Article in the News Letter Mon 23rd September 2019

One of the young stars at the forefront of the BMX revival in Northern Ireland is Jamie Harron.

He may only be eight but the Belfast lad has already taken on the best the BMX world has to offer in British and world championships.

His father Kris explained how his son got involved in the sport: “Jamie has always loved bikes since he was two.

“We were at the BMX track at Ormeau Park one day and we met a couple of boys from Belfast City BMX Club.

“Jamie joined the club and has never looked back.”

Kris, 42, said: “We went to the BMX World Championships this July in Belgium and he made the semi final.

“He crashed in the semis, it wasn’t completely his fault, he was going well. It’s just one of those things, it’s racing at the end of the day.”

Earlier this year Jamie also picked up his first win at the British Championships in Manchester.

His father said: “We have to do a bit of travelling around for events but the sport is really growing. Hopefully there will be more events at home like the Lisburn Open.” (More details about the Lisburn Open are included at the bottom of this story).

Kris and Jamie are members of Belfast BMX Club and while Ormeau is their local track Kris commented that it is only suitable for practice, not national races.

“We’re hoping to get a proper built track in Belfast as the sport continues to grow,” said Kris.

He continued: “BMX is a good feeder sport for motorbikes though I’d hope to keep Jamie more into bikes, maybe mountain biking or cycle cross, maybe when he’s older cycling on the roads.

“Geraint Thomas (Tour de France winner), Mark Cavendish and Chris Hoy (both Olympic medallists) were all BMX born and bred.

“BMX took a wee dip from the early nineties, but thankfully those same boys have brought it back again here.

“They’re the ones who built the track in Lisburn. It’s great that they’re racing again in their own categories.

“BMX is on the rise again with the young kids getting into it. It’s great sport for kids.

“It’s safe, they’re well covered through protection gear. It’s off the roads, it’s well marshalled and monitored.”

Making great strides in the world of balance bike racing is Jacob Jamison.

The east Belfast schoolboy who recently turned six will take part in his biggest event to date when he travels to the US next week.

The Strider Cup World Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina attracts competitors from around the world however Jacob, a pupil at Loughview Primary School, will be the only entrant from Northern Ireland.

The difference between strider bikes – often called balance bikes – and regular bicycles is the absence of pedals. Riders build momentum with their feet then launch themselves along the track.

Jacob’s father Peter said: “I used to race BMX bikes all through the eighties, when Jacob came along he took an early interest in bikes.

“I got him onto a plastic trike at the start then he got his first balance bike.

“Jacob did his first strider bike race when he was two.”

Fast forward four years and Jacob is competing in both strider bike racing and BMX racing.

His dad said: “He’s the first one from Northern Ireland to go to the Strider Cup in England and will be the first to compete in America.

“We fly out on September 28, the race is the following Saturday (October 5).

“No matter what happens it’s an experience. I believe he’s got a really good chance to do well in it.

“The main thing is he really enjoys it.

“He’s racing the BMX bikes as well. He’s third overall in the Irish championships.

“He’s flying in it as well.

“Because he’s getting older the strider bike will be hung up after this year and he’ll concentrate on BMX.”

Peter added: “From the day and hour he sat on a bike you could see he had a natural ability.

“Jacob has no fear when he’s on a bike.

“I didn’t learn as early as he did. I didn’t learn to ride a bike until around seven from what I remember.

“I progressed through BMX and went to the British Championships over in England and finished fifth in 1989.

Read the full article here

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