WHEN you think about the growth of female sport in Bathurst over the last five years, codes such as Australian rules, triathlon and rugby league come to mind, but there is another pursuit that makes the list.
While the Bathurst BMX Club is by no means the biggest in the city in terms of membership, it is one which has built its female ranks.
When former hockey talent Hayley Wolfenden first put down her stick and picked up a helmet, only Chelsea Westman and another junior who no longer rides made up the female contingent.
Now Bathurst has got more than double that.
“When I first started riding, I would’ve said that it was a sport definitely more dominated by blokes. Coming from hockey where there are quite a lot of females compared to males, to BMX when there was like two or three girls to 10 or 15 males – yeah, it was different,” she said.
“Now in the Bathurst club there is a lot more representation from the girls, their presence is getting stronger. We’ve got at least eight now, considering the total number we have at the club, that’s big.”
Wolfenden said the trend at Bathurst reflects one in the sport as a whole. While the numbers of male riders in the sport overall still outweigh female BMX competitors, the balance is shifting.
“It depends on the age group you look at … but in juniors I’d say now that girls make up a quarter of the numbers now,” she said.
“In other clubs, from what I’ve seen at open meets, I can see the junior girls’ numbers getting stronger and for the older women too, they are starting to come back again. The mums are starting to get on the bikes.
“With the mums area, they can see that they can jump on a bike as well and race, they can see that it’s not just for the kids or dad.
“At our club we’ve got a family where the two sons and dad race and now the mum has started racing – the Robertsons. We’ve got another mum that keeps sussing out racing too, so I’d love to get her involved.”
The profile of riders like Saya Sakakibara – who has been a regular at big meets staged on the new Bathurst track – is something Wolfenden feels has helped promote BMX as a sport for women.
Both Westman and Wolfenden been good ambassadors too, picking up podiums at the recent round of the BMX NSW State Series staged in Bathurst.
Wolfenden is keen to see her club continue to expand – she encourages more males to join in as well. Those who are interested are encouraged to attend the next Come And Try day.