Cailen Calkin battled high altitude, humid weather and low-flying aeroplanes to take out his third world BMX title.
The Morrinsville BMX champion competed at the UCI BMX World Championships in Medellin, Colombia, last month.
Cailen, 14, won the 15-year-old boys 20-inch wheel section and made the finals in the 15- and 16-year-old 24-inch wheel cruiser section.
Conditions were challenging at times, with races regularly paused to allow low-flying aeroplanes taking off and landing at the airport next to the track, he said.
There was also high humidity and high altitude to deal with.
“It was really hard to breathe because of the altitude because you’re up in the mountains,” he said.
“I could feel it when you’re climbing up the (starting) ramp, your breath was getting short.”
Taking out the world title this year was extra sweet for Cailen, who won the title in 2013 in New Zealand and 2014 in the Netherlands but didn’t make the finals at last year’s world champs because of a crash.
“It felt better than any other year because you don’t really realise what you’ve got until it’s gone and to get it back makes you appreciate it more,” he said.
Heavy rain the night before the final race delayed racing, with Kiwi dads stepping in to help with repairs on the track, he said.
“They didn’t want any other people on the track except Kiwis because they knew we could build tracks well,” he said.
Cailen’s brother Keegan, 11, also raced at the world champs, making the quarter finals in the 12-year-old boys’ section.
The brothers travelled with their parents, Kirsten Chapman and Joe Calkin. The family visited Houston, Texas, New Orleans and Miami as part of the trip.
They also toured Medellin, an area known for its slums and drug dealing.
Cailen said they stayed in a nice part of of the city and enjoyed experiencing the colourful culture.
“It was very, very cool. Everyone was so nice and friendly, they were always happy to help,” he said.
Cailen currently plays basketball as it’s the off-season for BMX, and hopes to get to the world championships again next year.