Young gun: 'I'm more fierce when I'm against the boys'
BMX: If there is any proof the first race does not define your campaign, it is in Teya Rufus's BMX Queensland state championship experience.
Rufus, a prodigious talent and Maryborough BMX Club member, lined up for two state championship classes, the 20-inch and cruisers.
The 12-year-old's first race at Brisbane's Sleeman Sports Complex was not part of the plan, to put it mildly. Rufus, who won both the 11yrs girls and 11-12yrs cruisers last year, crashed, finished at the rear of her motto, and her title defence looked shaky.
But Rufus, who was named the junior athlete of the year at the first Fraser Coast Sports Awards, brushed herself and did what she did best: win.
"I got back up and kept racing, then won both finals," the dual 2018 champion, said. "I was winning when we came around the corner, and my front wheel slid out. I face-planted. I was on the ground for a little bit but I got back up and finished.
"It didn't really do anything to my races so it was fine."
Rufus led the cruisers final from start to finish to claim the title, but was forced to work in the 20-inch class after a rival's better start. She was second, but by the first berm Rufus took the lead.
Her move came at the right time, as a crash wiped out most of her competitors.
"I had no idea what was going on," Rufus said. "I found out at the finish line, but five other riders went down."
Rufus is not just one of the region's most exciting BMX prospects, but has made her mark on the national and international stages.
She won the 11-12 years cruisers class and was fourth in the 12 Girls' 20-inch at the BMX Australia National Championships in Bunbury, Western Australia.
She then finished third in the 12 Girls category at the World BMX Championships at Baku, Azerbaijan, in June.
She dreams of representing Australia at the 2024 Olympic Games, but tomorrow, she will line up for Maryborough Twilight Meet, one of the biggest events on the local calendar. She won't only be racing the girls this time, and the boys won't take it any easier on Rufus.
"Sometimes I beat the boys, I'm normally at the front of the pack though," she said.
"There's a few boys who are really fast. I'm more fierce when I'm against the boys because I know they're bigger, faster, stronger than me."
The Maryborough Twilight Meet attracts some of the best BMX riders from across Queensland, in addition to the strong local contingent.
Rufus will compete in the 12 Boys races, and she is confident of success.
"Most of the faster boys have moved up to 13s so I should go good," she said.
Racing starts at 2pm.