BMX young gun Raph Cummins is gearing up for another year of wins and international competitions, after being selected to race at the 2024 World Championships in South Carolina.
The eight-year-old St Bernard's Primary School student from Batemans Bay has been tearing up BMX tracks since he was three.
In 2023, Raph has secured a trifecta of rankings: he placed 12th in the world at the UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow, fifth in Australia at the National Championships in Shepparton and first in NSW at the NSW/ACT Racing State Series in Albion Park.
Ms Cummins said the world-stage experience in Glasgow created some nerves for Raph at the gate, but they soon disappeared as he began racing with more than 30 eight-year-olds from all over the world.
"The track was nothing like we'd ever seen before.
"He only missed out on finals at [the championships] by half a bike."
Raph made it into the semi-finals where he finished sixth, earning him the ranking of 12th in the world for his age group.
Raph's mum Corina said his massive year can be attributed to a mature mindset and quiet confidence.
"He's a very mature kid, he can pick gaps on the track," she said.
Ms Cummins said the international feat has helped him build confidence.
"The best thing was that Raph gained so much confidence...before we went to the championships, he was always the fastest but not confident to race kids into corners."
Ms Cummins said racing into corners is about making tactical movements to encourage other riders to move to make space for a clear run to the finish line.
His strong finish meant he automatically qualified for the 2024 world championships which are being held in South Carolina in the United States.
Since the championships, Raph has also become the highest-ranked eight-year-old boy in the state.
He smashed his opponents at the October long weekend state titles which were held at Southlake near Albion Park, where Raph regularly trains.
"He definitely had the home track advantage."
The win scored him the "1N" plate which he proudly displayed on his bike.
The 1N plate proved to be lucky on November 3 when he raced at the National Championships in Shepparton.
"Nationals is massive...[but] he knows all the boys, he knows he's fast and he knew what the competition was."
There were 51 eight-year-olds competing for national glory at the competition.
In the first three motos (individual races) and quarter-finals, Raph finished first and second and slipped slightly back to fourth position in the semi-finals.
In a nail-biting grand final race, Raph crossed the finish line in fifth place, making him fifth in the country.
His feat won him a reputable "5A" plate which he will display for the next 12 months.
Raph is now poised to race at the international event in May 2024 and has already begun virtual training and physical coaching with professional BMX rider Adam Carey.
"He was chuffed [to be selected].
"He wants to win a world plate, wants to be in the top eight in the world."
The family has already begun reaching out to the community to help get Raph to the world championships, as the trip is expected to cost at least $10,000.
"I want to thank the community for supporting Raph," Ms Cummins said, "We raised close to $19,000 [to get him to Glasgow]".
"Without that, we simply wouldn't have been going."
Raph is on the lookout for sponsors for 2024. If you're interested, contact Ms Cummins at email@example.com.