Future Olympian? Santee’s Gaian tops North American field in BMX final

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Santee’s Sean Gaian is no stranger to competing at the elite levels of BMX racing. Last July in Auckland, N.Z., Gaian captured the hearts of a nation by winning the UCI BMX world championship in the Junior Men’s Division. In October 2011, Gaian, then 15, was honored by the city after winning his age division at the UCI world championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Santee’s Sean Gaian is no stranger to competing at the elite levels of BMX racing. Last July in Auckland, N.Z., Gaian captured the hearts of a nation by winning the UCI BMX world championship in the Junior Men’s Division. In October 2011, Gaian, then 15, was honored by the city after winning his age division at the UCI world championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

His goal is to represent the United States in the sport in the 2016 Olympic Games. He took one step closer toward realizing that goal after winning the Junior Elite Men’s race at the 2014 UCI North American Continental BMX Championships, held March 30 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.

The 2013 junior Supercross world champion, who has been riding since he was 4, accelerated past 2014 U.S. national champion Collin Hudson (Longmont, Colo.) on the final turn to win from the No. 3 position. Hudson finished second, followed by fellow Californian Alden Volle (Penryn).

The championship victory at the continental finals made amends, the West Hills High School senior said, after crashing in the championship race of the preceding day’s U.S. national championship event, held at the same site.

Gaian had attempted to pass Hudson on the second turn in the March 29 U.S. championship race but his bike came into contact with Hudson’s rear wheel, sending the Santee rider down and out of contention. Hudson, a five-time amateur world champion, rode a clear path to victory, followed by Cole Tesar (Huntersville, N.C.) and Joshua Banuelos (Medford, Ore.). The 18-year-old Gaian had led after the first turn.

Gaian, who is ranked No. 1 in the world in his age group, refers to himself as a “proud American.” He admitted he was especially proud to capture the 2014 continental championship after being too ill to compete in the 2013 continental finals.

For his efforts, the Santee teenager was honored by the San Diego Hall of Champions as one of its Stars of the Month for March.

Gaian said he “puts a lot of hard work and effort” into the sport to maintain a competitive edge.

Stars & Stripes

Connor Fields (Henderson, Nev.) and Alise Post (St. Cloud, Minn.), longtime icons at the OTC-CV, swept titles at both the U.S. nationals and North American Continental events. 

Fields finished ahead of Californian Jared Garcia (Victorville) and Canada’s Tory Nyhaug to win the North American Elite Men’s championship after topping Barry Nobles (Sun City) and Steven Cisar (Altadena) the previous day at the U.S. nationals.

Post finished ahead of Brooke Crain (Visalia) and Felicia Stancil (Lake Villa, Ill.) to win the North American Elite Women’s title after speeding past Stancil and Crain at the U.S. finals.

Newly crowned U.S. champion Shealen Reno (Plano, Texas) out-dueled Mexico’s Jhoanna Hernandez to win the Junior Elite Women’s North American championship.

The Elite Men’s field at the U.S. nationals featured 20 riders, including defending champion Nic Long of Lakeside.  The final heat featured a who’s who in BMX world-class racing: Long, Fields, Tucson’s Corben Sharrah and 2012 Olympian David Herman (Wheat Ridge, Colo.).

Fields was challenged, rising from third to first, to reclaim the title he had won in 2012.

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