From Big Rock Country to the Dear Green Place.
The sport of BMX is taking Okotoks racer Jaxon Burke across the pond next week to compete with the best of the best at the 2023 Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) BMX World Championships, held Aug. 6-13 in Glasgow, Scotland.
“I’m really excited because I haven’t really been all around the world and I think this is going to be a really good experience,” Burke said. “I do think it’s going to be a challenge to be top-50 in those races and I’m really excited to see the track there.
“I’ve seen a few pictures and it looks super nice.”
A BMX racer for five years, Burke got his start in the sport after some gentle coaxing from his cousin. In his first year, he stayed local with competitions at the Okotoks track with provincial races across the province to follow the next season.
“We really enjoyed the sport and the next year we went to nationals the first time,” he said.
The qualification for worlds requires athletes to finish in the top-eight in their age group and racing category at the previous year’s national event.
Burke won the N-6 plate, as a sixth-place finisher amongst 10-year-olds as an intermediate, at the 2022 Canadian BMX Championships, his third time at nationals.
Just one week after hitting new heights in the sport, Burke broke both of his arms in a crash.
“For a month or two I had a cast on and couldn’t bend my arms or anything,” he said. “My mom (Krystal) promised me if I got an N-plate that year that we would go to Scotland and I made it.
“After I (broke my arms) I thought I’ve got to train this whole winter to catch back up to my speed, catch back up to all those other people doing well.”
Extra training on leg strength and improving on quicker starts out of the gate have helped him progress to this point, he added.
Support from Tyler Clemence, Daina Tuchschere, Nick Bass and Sophie Gibbs and all of the amazing Okotoks BMX coaches have been a massive help along the journey as well.
“It’s definitely putting the commitment in to taking my time and putting in the work,” he said. “And my mom, joining in and driving me to all of the places and paying for them.”
In Scotland, the 11-year-old will be competing against those in his age group in the novice, intermediate and expert divisions. He’s expecting to compete with over 125 athletes in his class.
“I just want to get top-50,” he said.
Burke placed 14th in this summer’s Canadian BMX Championship, part of a 10-athlete contingent of Okotoks BMX athletes in Drummondville, Que in early July.
Ellie-Mai George, 10, won the N-1 plate as the first-place winner in her class, Tyler Layton, 11, won the N-3 plate as the third-place finisher, Harrison Layton, 9, earned the N-4 plate in fourth place and Jackson Krsa, 11, raced to the N-7 plate in seventh spot.
For more information on Okotoks BMX, visit okotoksbmx.com.