CYCLING phenom Ben Cornish came home in an astounding fifth place in the Boys’ 16 BMX World Championships in Glasgow last weekend.
Fifteen-year-old Cornish, who hails from Bovey Tracey, battled through to emerge in the top-five of 128 age-group entrants in the first-ever ‘Super Worlds’, a 10-day event in which all cycling disciplines have heir World Championships at the same time and place.
'Ben raced on the Wednesday, won all of his heats and won his eighth-final but then hit the gate in the quarter-final, so had to come back from last and finished fourth,’ Adam Cornish, Ben’s dad, said.
'Then in the semi-final, Ben came second to the eventual World Champion and then the final didn’t go to plan but he managed to come in fifth, so we’ll take that.
'He beat everyone else in the final [at some point throughout the event] except the winner, Sean Day from America, but you’ve got to take every race as it comes, and Ben certainly did that. He made a couple moves in the race and got back up to third but he just couldn’t maintain his speed, so he dropped back to fifth by the end of the lap.’
As a result of his fifth-in-the-world finish, Ben will don the W5 plate on his bike until the next World Championships at Rock Hill in South Carolina, USA next year. Ben’s success comes as a milestone following his return to racing after injuries and disappointment over the last few months.
'He crashed in the first round in Manchester, so he didn’t score any points then and he also missed the next day’s racing,’ Adam said.
Ben was placed on a concussion protocol, where British Cycling enforce a three-week break from the bike for the riders’ safety.
'By the time we got to Gosport,’ Adam said, ‘Ben was recovering having sustained a concussion injury.
'Gosport was his first race back; his mate who rides there as his home track won on day one with Ben coming second and and, on day two, Ben won.’
But with the unbridled joy that sport can bring, it can also be extraordinarily cruel. In the French city of Besancon, where Cornish was competing in the European Championships, the high-flying Bovonian was knocked out of contention through no fault of his own.
'He was absolutely devastated,’ Adam explained.
'Someone else’s error ended up clipping his wheel and there was nothing he could do – he just went down. He’d been training really hard all year for that event but he showed a great deal of resilience to come back from that. He came back and watched his mates race and just took it on the chin – it’s just something that happens.
'At Zolder, Ben was third in the European [Championship] rankings but there has been a number of races that we couldn’t get to for financial reasons, so he’ll be pushing to get good results in the last two rounds of the European Championship in September in Anadia in Portugal.’
With the curtains closing on the season within the next few months, the Cornish family calendar is looking particularly packed in the near future.
'Next weekend, Ben’s got a GB camp and then he’s got the British Championships at Derby the following weekend, and then we fly out to Anadia on the Thursday, we get back on the Monday and then he’s got the last rounds of the National Series at Manchester Indoor, so the next six weeks are really full-on,’ said Adam.
As ever in the dawn of sporting careers, there is a huge commitment required from the family. A lot of time and money has to be spent chasing these ventures, and Team Cornish are very grateful their supporters, many of whom are based right here in Teignbridge.
'Local businesses have been absolutely amazing in the support that they have given, and they are the ones who have enabled him to do all of this,’ Adam said.
'Without getting any international experience, he wouldn’t be where he is now.’