Alberta’s Samantha Cools Crowned National BMX Champion

Provided by the Canadian Cycling Association

Samantha Cools and Scott Erwood crowned Canadian champions at BMX Nationals

KINGSTON, Ont. – Canadian Olympic team members Scott Erwood of Surrey, B.C., and Samantha Cools of Airdrie, Alta., were crowned the men’s and women’s champions on Sunday at the BMX cycling nationals.

The competition also determined a selection pool for the senior and junior teams for the BMX world championships scheduled for July 23-26 in Adelaide, Australia. Canada can field three men and three women in senior competition at the worlds and two men and one woman in the junior category.

Cools, seventh at the Olympic Games last year where BMX made its official debut, dominated Sunday’s final for the victory. Danielle Brisson of Abbotsford, B.C., was second and Rosemary Adams of Surrey was third.

“I was able to put it all together in the final,” said Cools. “I knew if I had a good start I would be hard to catch. I just got stronger during the race. It’s the kind of race I wanted in my preparations for the world championships.”

In the men’s final, Erwood prevailed over Patrick Lebel of Calgary and Ontario’s Randall Neave.

“The track was in really good shape after all the rain on Saturday,” said Erwood, who reached the quarterfinals at the Olympics and is eyeing a berth in the semis at the worlds. “I capitalised on a good starting position and had an awesome race. Winning the nationals was one of my big goals this season.”

In the women’s junior final, 16-year-old Abby Graalman of Red Deer, Alta., overcame a serious injury suffered last season, to earn her first career national crown. Brookelyn Wilkinson of Abbotsford was second and Sarah Biron of Nicolet, Que., was third.

Graalman broke her collarbone last July in practice and went through a lengthy rehabilitation process.

“I’m a little surprised to win the gold medal today,” said Graalman, who started riding BMX at age seven. “It’s been a long and difficult recovery and I only started feeling comfortable riding recently. But I know in this sport you cannot win unless you go all out. I really focused on that first straight then once past the first corner I gave it my all.”

In the junior men’s race, 17-year-old Tory Nyhaug of Coquitlam, B.C., took the gold. Erick Nicol of Calgary was second and Michael Beaudoin of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Que., was third.

“I felt strong and consistent all day and it went really well,” said Nyhaug, a BMX rider since age four. “We all had good starts in the final and it was really tight but I got through the first difficult section cleanly and that was the difference in the race.”

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