Sport extremes have life lessons

Jett Harvey's face lights up with a megawatt smile as he whizzes along the track at Wanneroo BMX Raceway Club, pedalling his heart out on a bike that is almost twice his size.

The 2½-year-old has been riding for only six months but he is not about to let that stop him competing with the big boys.

The youngster is part of a new breed of children trying their hands - and feet - at extreme sports such as BMX riding.

Jett and his 3½-year-old brother Max are regulars at their local club, which now has 12 mini-wheelers aged between two and five in the sport.

The boys' proud father Chad Harvey said his sons picked up the sport quickly, with Jett recently graduating to a "micro-mini" even though he has been riding just six months.

"We did BMX when we were younger so I just thought it would be good to come back and get the kids into it and they love it, so that's why we are here every Friday night," he said.

A CSIRO report last year for the Australian Sports Commission identified extreme sports as one of the six "megatrends" likely to shape the sports sector over the next 30 years.

The report says sports such as skateboarding, kite surfing, inline skating, freestyle BMX and rock climbing are particularly popular with younger people.

Skill acquisition specialist Simon Rosalie said getting a child involved with sports at a young age could greatly benefit their early skills development.

"These types of sports are associated with skills used in daily life like driving, balance and swimming," he said.

"The earlier we start to develop our skills, the better we tend to be once we need to use them."

Dr Rosalie said it was important sports were modified for young children to ensure they were age appropriate.

In the past few years, more toddlers have become regulars at the YMCA Youth Headquarters skateboarding lessons in Leederville.

The younger members of the class learn about the importance of safety gear before they are taught how to stand on and manoeuvre a board.

YMCA HQ manager Callan Hatchman said the sport had exploded among children over the past few years.

"We quite often get younger children aged two to four who will join in with their older siblings," he said.

"A big factor is the sport now gets a lot more exposure on TV, through video games, organised competitions and the increased number of skate parks throughout the metropolitan region."

The West Australian

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