Cycling bmx: The fast and furious sport of BMX makes only its second Olympic appearance at the London 2012 Games. BMX (Bicycle Motocross) began to take off in the late 1960s in California, around the time that motoc-ross became popular in the US. The motorised sport was the inspiration for the pedal-powered version – a breathtaking spectacle that’s since become very popular all over the world.
Field of play
The men’s track is 470m long and the women’s is 430m long. Both outdoor tracks are built up with jumps, bumps and tightly banked corners.
BMX at Games
Having made its debut at the Beijing 2008 Games, BMX Cycling is the most recent discipline to have been added to the Olympic programme.
The BMX races at London 2012 will be held on a short outdoor track, with the riders starting on an 8m-high ramp. Each race lasts around 40 seconds. BMX bikes have only one gear and one brake. Most racing riders use wheels that are 20 inches in diameter – roughly two-thirds the size of wheels used on a standard road bike. Bikes need to be strong enough to endure the wear and tear from the jarring landings after jumps, yet light enough to remain fast and competitive.
The men’s and women’s events at both start with a seeding phase; each rider runs the track once to determine the seedings, which ensures that the fastest riders don’t meet before the final. The women progress straight to the semis while the men’s event continues with the quarters. The top four riders from each semis adv-ance to the final, where the medals are decided over one run.
Officials include inspectors, who ensure that all bikes conform to International Federation regulations, start and finish officials, and race officials, who are stationed along the course and ensure riders adhere to all rules and regulations.