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BMX enters the Olympics

Latest update : 2008-07-30

A new sport will make its first appearance at the Olympics: BMX. Young and fresh, it is nonetheless a very physical and competitive sport.

BMX : A beginner’s guide

For those unfamiliar with the terms crank flip, pegs and bunny hop, here’s a brief guide.

BMX, an acronym for Bicycle Motocross, was invented in California in the 1960s. The international federation was established in April 1981, and officially joined the International Cycling Union (ICU) in 1993.


BMX is comprised of two main competitions: timed races on dirt tracks, or “freestyle” manoeuvres on jumps, other obstacles, or flat terrain. Only the racing competition has been admited to the Olympic Games, not freestyle.

The principle of the race is simple – eight bikers on cycles weighing about 12 kilos ride on a 350m dirt track with bumps, tight turns and jumps. The four frontrunners qualify for the next round, and so on, until the final lap, which determines the winner.

The bikers cannot fall off – or try to push their rivals off their bikes. Either offense can result in penalty points or even disqualification. Like the boarder-cross snowboarding (and now skiing), the event is known for its “show” value.

The United States team, featuring world champion Kyle Bennet, leads in the international rankings. On the European side, the Latvians are in impressive form. The French are not far behind, reinforced in particular by sixth European seed Thomas Hamon.



A high-level sport


The Olympic Games are still months away, and in Aix-en-Provence, where the French BMX team is training, minds are set on another contest.

“Even if the Olympic Games are on our minds, we must first think of the world championship in Adelaide in April,” says 22-year old Thomas Hamon.

Far removed from the “rebellious” and “fun” cliché, professional BMX represents hours of work. Hamon has to fight hard to be one of the two or three selected representatives at the Olympics.


Fabrice Vettoretti, in charge of the BMX team in Aix, hopes the sport’s Olympic status will garner it better recognition amidst the wider sports community. Rather than fearing a large-scale commercialisation of BMX, Vettoreti believes the introduction of BMX in the Olympic Games is an institutional recognition of changing trends in sport and society.

Date created : 2008-04-29

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