Mildura Weekly : Friday June 19 2015 Vol 9 No 32
sport 23 FRIDAY, JUNE 19, 2015 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU By WADE AUNGER It’s been a huge leap of faith. Fifteen-year-old Mildura school student Jordan Stewart is currently 15,683km from his family home, taking a punt on the Denmark Speedway industry that saw and ap- preciates his racing potential. The second-generation motorcy- cle young gun is spending four weeks in the thick of Danish competition, and by all reports is making a big impression. It’s a case, even on the other side of the world, of Mildura looking af- ter Mildura. Established Sunraysia Speedway star Justin Sedgmen set young Jor- dan up with the opportunity, having convinced well-known Danish hero Kristian Lund to “take a look at the lad.” It’s a daunting proposition for an adult, let alone a Year 11 high school student, but Stewart seems to have taken it all in his stride, and the tem- porary move to the other side of the planet seems to be paying off. The lure of the bright lights and the considerable pay cheques at the elite end of the scale are certainly enticing for a young Speedway as- pirant, but on the flip side are the bitterly cold conditions, high risks, a language barrier in certain pockets of Europe...and loneliness. It’s not always a glamorous life. “You always have an idea in your mind that when you first move over here it’ll be an exciting life,” explains 2012 World Speedway champion Chris Holder, “but the reality can often be very different. You’re cold, you’re away from your family, and you often have a really busy sched- ule. “You also don’t turn over a lot of money in the beginning. It can be pretty humbling.” Proud mum Donna Stewart ex- plains that while it happened very quickly, the idea of packing their boy off to pursue his dream in Denmark wasn’t something that she and hus- band Jason took lightly. “Sedgy (Justin Sedgmen) had asked Kristian if he’d be keen to take an Aussie kid in for a few weeks,” she said. “That’s something that Sedgy had experienced himself when he first went overseas, and there’s an unwrit- ten code that the established Aussies help the next generation with similar opportunities. We made contact with the Lund family, booked flights one week and he left the next on his own. “My only rule was that he had to do his deb (debutant ball) first! He’s been living with Jens and Ellen Lund (parents of Kristian) who are a really great speedway-orientated family, so they understand what’s involved and how much Jordan is putting into the opportunity.” Kristian Lund’s business KLS (Kristian Lund Support) is a speed- way spares business where Jordan has been helping out in return for being fed, watered and kept warm. To Jordan’s ultimate benefit KLS has a strong affiliation with Danish Speedway Grand Prix superstar Niels Kristian Iverson. He’s indirectly surrounded by Speedway greatness. “He practiced three days af- ter landing in Denmark,” explains proud dad Jason, “then the manager at the club invited him to race the following week in Esbjerg, where he scored a strong 11 points from a possible maximum of 15 so that was a great start. He practiced again re- cently in Outrup which is the village where he’s living at the moment. “He’s also been practice rid- ing with 19-year-old Victorian Max Fricke, as he’s in Denmark as well. It’s good that he’s got a bit of an Aus- sie support network in that sense. I know there’s a lot of guys, starting with Sedgy, who are looking out for him.” A bike was provided for Jordan in Denmark, and the Stewart clan sent his motor over from Mildura. Now in his sixth season of rac- ing, the quietly-spoken youngster has been rapidly rising through the ranks since cutting his teeth at Mil- dura’s iconic Olympic Park Speed- way as a then nine-year old. He’d been riding a Pee Wee (the smallest bike available) as a three- year-old, before beginning his rac- ing...aged four! “He raced a season of junior speedway at nine,” recalls Donna, “then he returned a couple of years later and won the Victorian junior titles in 2012.” Jordan finished on the 125cc bike at 14, and got on a 250cc bike almost immediately. Much to the de- light of Jason he raced his first senior Speedway meeting just two days after turning 16. In just his second-ever meeting he raced in the Australian long track title in Tamworth, where he rode a long track bike for the first time on an 850m trotting track (over twice the size of Olympic Park) and placed a creditable sixth place on debut. Continuing that rapid improve- ment with every ride, Jordan quali- fied for the Australian Speedway Ti- tles as a reserve earlier this year, and was seeded into the format after his first meeting. Clearly, people were taking no- tice. The next step was to be selected by Mildura hero Mark Lemon to ride in last season’s Testimonial, where Jordan again punched above his weight and showed plenty of ticker in the star-studded lineup. Traditionally the next step in any young Aussie’s career is to head straight to the spiritual home of Speedway the United Kingdom. Recent changes to the visa sys- tem, however, have made the nor- mally seamless step far more diffi- cult, and youngsters like Stewart and Fricke have had to look further afield to get into the ultra-competitive Eu- ropean Speedway industry. “The sport is huge over there,” explains Jason. “The competition is fierce, but the rewards can be very lu- crative, and the chance to race there is something we have to help him pursue.” Despite his tender age of 15. Jor- dan already has a solid mechanical grounding and understanding of his race machinery, and that has stood him in good stead in prepping and maintaining his bike on the other side of the planet. “He’s a very well-grounded kid,” explains Donna, “so whilst this is a huge thing for him to be in another country, we wouldn’t have let him go if we didn’t think he’d be able to cope. He’s already ridden well in front of a few influential people, so we hope it’s a stepping stone for him for next year and beyond.” Aside from living and breathing Speedway every day he’s overseas, Jordan also recently took time out to visit a local school and give a speech about his home town. “He’s got some more rides in Denmark this month, then he’ll go to the British Speedway GP in Wales as a spectator, and then he comes home to his mother,” grins dad Ja- son, “we’re not letting him get too carried away. His schooling has to be a factor in all this as well. I think we’ll just take it each day at a time.” Living the speedway dream in Denmark • CHASING THE DREAM: Fifteen-year-old Mildura school student Jordan Stewart is currently in Denmark pursuing his speedway dream, and is pictured LEFT addressing students at a local school in his adoptive town. 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