Wagga may have unearthed its latest sporting hero in the form of 11-year-old motorcycling talent Byron Dennis after the youngster matched a national icon in the Hattah Desert Race in Victoria.
Competing in his second Hattah, Dennis outgunned 200 competitors in the Small Wheels 85cc 2 Stroke category to clinch gold in arguably Australia’s most challenging off-road event.
Dennis’ time of 01:17:45 was more than three minutes faster than second-placed rival William Parker-Doney and emulated one of the country’s most decorated endurance riders, Toby Price.
It’s the culmination of more than five years training for the Dennis family and mum Katie couldn’t be happier with the end result.
“It’s pretty exciting, especially seeing as though he’s only 11 years old,” she said.
Dennis’ training schedule is impressive by adult standards, let alone a primary school students’.
The 11-year-old regularly hits the gym and takes his physical recovery seriously.
“He’s been training really hard for this and he’s got his own personal trainer and uses the hyperbolic chamber and things like that,” Katie said.
“He’s got a real will and determination and I think good things come to kids who work hard, which is exactly what’s happened here.
“He’s also been looking at his diet and avoiding sugar so when I asked him after the race what he wanted, he just said “could I have a Freddo Frog please?”
“That’s all he wanted, even after winning that race.”
The hard work is definitely paying off and not just in the form of Hattah gold.
Dennis, a keen rugby league player when time permits, has also been doubling down on his impressive form in the East Coast MX Series this year and is hoping to clinch the under 9 to under 12 85c title later this month.
He opened his campaign with a fourth place ride but has hit back to place first, third and second respectively in the past three races.
Younger sister Eliza is also showing an aptitude on the bike with a few strong rides in the under 4 to under 9 50cc division.
She’s finished up on the podium in three races so far this year alongside dad Ben, who’s been flying the family flag in the over 30s category.
“We end up travelling around a fair bit as a family with Byron and Eliza competing,” Katie said.
“Byron’s teachers and coaches are all very understanding … and he doesn’t end up missing too much school either.
“It’s really important for for us to make sure he’s still learning.”
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