HANFORD – For the first time in 15 years, the BMX World Championships will be held on American soil.
And Hanford 12-year-old Taylor Weisser will be there representing Team USA.
Earlier this year, Weisser qualified for the world championship with her finish at a qualifying event in Phoenix, Ariz.
The world championship is July 23-30 in Rock Hill, S.C. Weisser just finished her seventh-grade year at Kings River-Hardwick Elementary School.
Michelle Weisser, who is Taylor’s mother, said Taylor was quick to pick up the sport, even though she got involved later than most of the competitors her age.
It all started when Michelle Weisser found out about the Hanford track at a farmer’s market and thought it would be something good for her children.
After Taylor’s older brother had been doing BMX for a few months, Taylor thought she’d give it a try. Once there, Taylor got inspired.
It became a family affair as her parents became heavily involved with the local tracks and both now help run the Hanford and Lemoore tracks.
Taylor would routinely watch Visalia rider Brooke Crain locally in races. And last year, Crain rode her way to qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, where she finished just out of the medals.
“It just inspired me that I could do it even if I was a girl,” Taylor said. “It showed that I could perform.”
While balancing school, where she gets straight A’s, Taylor competes around California in a state-wide BMX series. She’s also on a developmental team locally.
Taylor has biked in races in other parts of the country and is about to compete in places such as Utah and Las Vegas.
All those don’t compare to the chance of competing at the upcoming world championship, she said.
Taylor said her favorite part of the race is the first straightway, where racers battle for position before making it to the first turns.
“That’s where the action is,” she said.
She also hopes to make the finals at the world championships. Top finishers earn bike plates they’ll be able to show off on their bikes, displaying how well they did in the championships, similar to a cowboy wearing a championship belt buckle.
“I really wanted to compete for the USA,” Taylor said. “My goal is to make the [final]. If I did that, it would give me a lot of confidence.”
Of the racers in Taylor’s age group at the world championship, 32 will be from the United States. To qualify for the world championship, Taylor competed in one of four qualifiers where only the top eight racers advance. Taylor finished in fourth place in her race.
The world championship competition will be even more grueling. Michelle Weiser said she had heard of races with up to 30 racers in each with preliminaries deciding spots in the world finals.
Because of her birthday, Taylor will also be racing in an age group where nearly all of the other racers will already be 13-years-old while she’ll still be 12.
Michelle Weisser said Taylor started at 7-years-old, but by then other girls had already been racing for a couple years.
Taylor quickly caught up going through the same type of training others do, which includes cardio, stairs, sprints and sit-ups.
“When she’s not at school, she’s training,” Michelle Weisser said. “She’s gotten really competitive at it and fell in love with it.”
Taylor hopes one day to follow in Crain's footsteps.
“I want to compete in the Olympics,” she said. “And I want to be one of the top racers in my age group nationally.”