BMX Freestyle Park Added to 2020 Olympics

June 13, 2017 by  

Over the past four years, BMX News has been watching BMX Freestyle jump from square to square on the Olympic Candidate gameboard, enroute to becoming an officially-recognized medal sport for Tokyo 2020.

Our latest check-in on the progress was a little over a year ago, on May 17, 2016, when UCI announced a World Cup series for 2016—widely considered essential to the discipline’s inclusion in the games, whenever that occurred.

Well, “whenever” has now occurred, with an announcement this past weekend that BMX Freestyle Park, along with a number of other sports, has been added to the official program for Tokyo 2020.

The official release described the discipline as follows:

BMX Freestyle Park is a spectacular, crowd-pleasing discipline, which takes place on ramps with big transitions and large obstacles. Competitors are judged on tricks performed throughout the course, with points awarded based on difficulty, originality, style and execution.

Each rider in both the men’s and women’s events gets two one-minute runs (which both count) to impress the judges, who will reward the rider with a score between 0-100 points, with the ultimate goal being the award of an Olympic gold medal.

For 2020, the Park event will qualify nine men and nine women to the Games. That is a smaller field that we had anticipated, but maybe it makes sense to start small, and expand as qualified athletes present themselves.

The elephant in the room when addressing this topic is, as always, “what does this mean for BMX racing’s place in the Games?” It is obviously too early to tell.

Looking at the whole chess board, one plausible scenario we can see if BMX Freestyle is successful in 2020 is that IOC/UCI “transfers” athlete spots from BMX Racing to BMX Freestyle in order to increase the number of qualifiers. In such a move, BMX racing could slip to 16 qualification slots each for Elite Men and Elite Women.

Elite Women ran 16 riders for three Olympic cycles so far, so it is certainly not beyond the realm of possibiity that racing loses athletes in order to make room for more Freestylers—if it is a success in 2020.

For now, however, we’ll watch how things play out with the freestyle athletes conforming to the rather-rigid, UCI way of operating, and the breakout of the next crop of BMX Olympic Medalists.

—Mike Carruth

Top Photo via Gerrit Does Facebook page. Photographer unknown.