By Jenita Iyalu
Women BMX riders in WA say a lack of recognition has prevented homegrown riders of both sexes furthering and developing their skills to international standards moreso than gender inequality could ever hope to do.
BMX is just not considered to be a high priority sport in WA, yet WA has produced its fair share of internationally successful competitors such as Olympian Lauren Reynolds.
Eighteen-year-olds Kesia Savill and Rachel Gaskin, elite female competitors from the Southside BMX Club, want to dispel any myths discouraging young girls from competing in sports that are predominantly male-orientated.
“The BMX community is quite close, we’re quite respected as female riders in WA,” says Kesia.
They say the issue is not discrimination within the sport but rather not having the facilities so as to develop skills on par with both national and international standards.
Rachel Gaskin, a ‘fairly confident’ and talented state level competitor, notices a difference in herself and other girls while competing at home versus competing interstate.
“Travelling over east [in particular], the main reason for that is just that we don’t have the same skill level,” says Rachel.
These feelings of disparity between competitors from different states concern both Kesia and Rachel who hope to one day compete at an international level, where higher ramps are used as well as a variety of different terrain such as Super Cross tracks.
“We’ve only got about two Super Cross tracks in Australia and they’re both over east, we’re not lucky enough to have any over here,” says Kesia.
“Even the ramps are higher, the elites have ramps of eight metres, whereas here the highest we have are six-metre ramps, so that makes the training difficult,” she says.
Current plans are, however, in the works with The Department of Sport and Recreation to create a facility.
“It will work as a hub where all disciplines, not just BMX, can come together,” says Chief Executive Officer of West Cycles WA, Matt Fulton.
The Cycling Facilities Plan, while still in its infancy and still dealing with big issues such as location, is a step forward for the state in recognising this area’s need for development.
Kesia and Rachel hope those new BMX facilities will not only help bridge the gap between competitors from WA and the east but also, one day, in the amount of prize money offered to male and female winners.