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Cycling – BMX

The fast and furious sport of BMX will be making only its second Olympic appearance at the London 2012 Games.

Key facts

Venue: BMX Track – Olympic Park
Dates: Wednesday 8 – Friday 10 August
Medal events:
BMX (Bicycle Motocross) began to take off in the late 1960s in California, around the time that motocross became popular in the US. The motorised sport was the inspiration for the pedal-powered version, a breathtaking spectacle that’s since become popular all over the world.

The basics

The BMX races at London 2012 will be held on a short outdoor track, with the riders starting on an 8m-high ramp. The course is built up with jumps, bumps and tightly banked corners. Following individual time trial seeding rounds, eight riders compete in heats, with each race lasting 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 London 2012 will 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 men’s event continues with the quarter-finals, which are held over five races with groups of eight riders.

Points are awarded according to places, and the top two riders from the first three races in each quarter-final qualify for the semi-finals. The groups (now six riders in each) race twice more, and the top two riders from each group of six transfer to the semi-finals. From here, the semi-finals in both the men’s and women’s events follow a three-run format: the top four riders from each semi-final advance to the final run, when the medals are decided.

Olympic BMX Cycling, past and present

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 first Olympic BMX gold medals were claimed by Latvia’s Maris Strombergs and France’s Anne-Caroline Chausson.

The BMX competition at London 2012 will be held at a specially constructed track next to the Velodrome in the Olympic Park, which will have capacity for 6,000 spectators.
Cycling – BMX
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