BMX Racing is back at the Olympics this year in London, having made its debut at the Beijing 2008 Games where the first gold medals were claimed by Latvia’s Maris Strombergs and France’s Anne-Caroline Chausson who will both be back this year to defend their titles.
Beijing Games 2008 Highlights
The BMX competition at London 2012 will be held at a specially constructed supercross track next to the Velodrome in the Olympic Park and will have capacity for 6,000 spectators which will include at least a couple of our Irish riders lucky enough to get tickets.
The men’s and women’s events at London will both start with a seeding phase where 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, where the medals are decided.
In August 2011 the London Olympic track held a test SX event in part to iron out any issues before the games kick off this year. While exciting for the spectators some of the riders voiced concerns about the track, Sarah Walker, who finished second in the women’s race, said the course could “get ugly” on a windy day. Marc Willers of New Zealand who won the event said, “I don’t really agree with it, It’s certainly not your traditional BMX track and I certainly feel that we could have done it differently. Surprisingly everyone stayed up going through the course, but I think there’s definitely potential for expositions to happen – we got lucky today.”
Olympic Test Event – August 2011
Other than the first straight the riders also voiced concern about the box jump. Willers again chimmed in “The jump itself wasn’t so bad, it could obviously use some tweaking, my biggest beef was the terrible 90 degree turns the box was stuck between.”
Earlier this year it was decided to modify the track for the Olympic event. London 2012′s Director of Sport Debbie Jevans told Reuters “The reason that we run these test events is to make sure that we get it right at Games time, The feedback we had from the athletes was that, with the headwinds, certainly for the women the first jump was too tough. We did have a number of athletes fall during the test event. So what we’ve done is we have reconfigured that track, we’ve reconfigured the first jump and made it slightly shorter and we’ve taken away one of the jumps on the first bend and the box jump,” she said.
Ireland may have more than just a BMX interest in the event. Irish Elite rider Kelvin Batey is hopeful of qualifying, a huge task in itself. Kelvin should have been in Beijing but injury and external forces conspired against him. For 2012 it’s going to come down to how well he does at the Worlds in Birmingham during May so we’re all wishing him well for that event. If Kelvin qualifies it’ll be a massive boost for Irish BMX racing, hopefully the powers that be will sit up and take notice.
- The track is approximately 450m long and features an eight-metre high ramp at the start.
- The venue covers an area slightly larger than the average football pitch (160m by 90m).
- 4,000 cubic metres of soil were used to form the track (enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools).
Olympic BMX Schedule (May change closer to event):
08 August 15:00 – 16:30 Men’s & Women’s seeding phase runs
09 August 15:00 – 17:00 Men’s quarter-finals
10 August 15:00 – 17:20 Men’s & Women’s semi-finals & finals
More info on the Olympic BMX page.
Info on the London 2012 Track.