BMX racing emerged from the motocross craze that took off in California in the 1960s. Children had fun imitating their idols on their bikes and BMX began to develop into a proper sport in the early 1980s as the first BMX federation was set up. The first BMX world championships were organised in 1982, and in 1993, BMX officially integrated the Union Cycliste Internationale, thereby jumping the first hurdle to feature at the Olympic Games.
Brief overview of the rules
BMX Racing is a much more explosive format than the other, more traditional cycling disciplines, which tend to reward endurance over several minutes, whereas BMX Racing requires an intense burst of energy over a short period of time lasting just a few seconds. Sprint races are contested by a maximum of eight riders on a track packed with jumps, banked corners and obstacles, where the rider with the quickest reactions and fastest pace wins.
Riders launch themselves from a gate atop the 8m high 35-degree start hill on to the 400m track, reaching speeds of up to 60 km/h. Quick reactions and explosive power are essential to burst out of the gates at the front of the pack and hold on to the lead through to the finish line. The final race is often a thrilling spectacle that viewers watch with bated breath.
BMX Racing integrated the Olympic sport programme for the 2008 Beijing Games. Due to the sport’s relatively short history on the Olympic stage, it is difficult to see any kind of domination from one country or another. However certain individual athletes have already notched up some impressive achievements throughout their career. Mariana Pajon from Colombia and Latvia’s Maris Strombergs are both firm favourites to get their hands on the next Olympic titles.
International federation : Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)
© Julian Finney/Getty Images