Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Enjoy the thrill of an exciting finish.

Tokyo 2020 competition animation "One Minute, One Sport"

We will show you the rules and highlights of cycling in one minute. Whether you are familiar with cycling or want to know more about it, "One Minute, One Sport" explains the sport and how it works. Watch the video below.

One Minute, One Sport | Cycling
01:23

Overview

BMX racing has its roots in the racing culture that started in California between the 1960s and 1970s. Influenced by motocross riders, children tried to imitate their heroes, but the sport remained relatively small until the 1980s. In 1982, the movie E.T. was released and helped popularise BMX racing mostly due to the famous final chase scene. That year the BMX bike became the “must have” bicycle for children and teenagers.

After the establishment of the BMX Federation in 1981, the first World Championships was held the following year before BMX was fully integrated into the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) in 1993.

BMX made its Olympic debut at the Beijing 2008 Games and has been part of the Olympic programme ever since.

There are few rules other than the mandatory use of 20 inch wheels, but the increased exposure and popularity of the sport has led to innovations such as the use of carbon fibre frames, as competitors seek to gain an advantage to go faster.

Event Programme

  • Race (Men/Women)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 18:  (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white) Tory Nyhaug of Canada, Jefferson Milano of Venezuela, Luis Brethauer of Germany, David Graf of Switzerland, and Kyle Dodd of South Africa compete in the Cycling BMX - Men's Quarterfinals on Day 13 of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at Olympic BMX Centre on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 18: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white) Tory Nyhaug of Canada, Jefferson Milano of Venezuela, Luis Brethauer of Germany, David Graf of Switzerland, and Kyle Dodd of South Africa compete in the Cycling BMX - Men's Quarterfinals on Day 13 of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at Olympic BMX Centre on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
2016 Getty Images

Essence of the Sport

Quick reactions and explosive power are required to gain the lead

BMX races are thrilling sprint races with a maximum of eight riders who launch themselves from a gate atop the 8m high 35-degree start hill. Riders can reach 60km/h while riding over alternating jumps and around banked corners.

The course is about 400m long and of all the five cycling events, this is the one in which riders need the most protective gear with a full-face helmet, gloves, goggles and long-sleeved protective clothing all used.

BMX racing is essentially a contact sport and onlookers may see riders push and bump each other in the chaos of the race, but intentionally impeding another rider does result in a warning or disqualification.

Riders' race rankings are determined based on both time and points, but unlike at the Rio 2016 Games, there will be no individual time trials at the Tokyo 2020 Games. There will be 24 competitors in both the men’s and women’s events. Six riders compete in each of the four heats over three rounds, with the top 16 proceeding to the semi-final, and then the top eight competing in the final.

The first rider out of the gate and into the lead has the advantage, so quick reactions and explosive power are required. Once a rider is in the lead it is important for them to protect it using techniques such as blocking the course of the riders behind.

The most exciting places to watch are the corners. Riders will keep up their speed heading into these turns as they jostle for spots. This sometimes leads to collisions. However, even if riders do crash, it is still important for them to finish the race, with points awarded for crossing the finish line. The finish also makes for exciting viewing with both spectators and riders holding their breath to find out where they place in tight finishes.

Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games

Powerful contenders from the Netherlands, USA, France and Australia

The Europeans have traditionally been strong in cycling road and track events, but in BMX racing medallists have come from non-European countries such as the USA, Australia and Colombia. At the Tokyo 2020 Games, the top contenders are set to come from the Netherlands, France, USA and Australia.

In the men’s event, Connor Fields from the USA, who won gold at the Rio 2016 Games, will be looking to continue his winning streak, while Niek Kimmann and Twan Van Gendt from the Netherlands, Joris Daudet of France and Carlos Ramírez of Colombia will provide fierce competition as they seek Olympic glory.

Colombia’s Mariana Pajón will be chasing her third consecutive Olympic Games gold medal after her success at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, but she will be under pressure from top-ranked Alise Willoughby of the USA, 2018 World Champion Laura Smulders from the Netherlands and Australia’s Saya Sakakibara.

Trivia