Olympic BMX bike setups
Olympic BMX pros display their new bike setups heading into London. Check the photos. Gallery
In 2008, BMX racing made its Olympic debut in Beijing, China. 36 seconds after the Final race began, Latvian BMX powerhouse Maris Strombergs became the first Olympic Gold medalist in BMX racing. For the past four years, Strombergs, 25, has enjoyed a nominal amount of success in BMX racing in the U.S. and Europe, with sponsors that include Free Agent Bicycles and Rockstar Energy Drink. He owns a home in Murietta, Calif., he makes appearances in local schools to speak with students and he’s saving a bottle of champagne in case things go his way later this week.
Currently, Strombergs is in London, UK, where he will make his second Olympic appearance. “I can’t believe four years has passed already,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to being a part of the greatest show on Earth.”
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesMaris Strombergs leading the pack at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Considered a top competitor in the field of BMX racing, Strombergs returns to London a veteran amid a field of rookie Olympic BMX invites, including Team USA’s Connor Fields, Team New Zealand’s Marc Willers, and Team Australia’s Sam Willoughby — all with their sights set on Olympic Gold and years of hardened experience and training to achieve that.
Strombergs, nicknamed “The Machine,” isn’t letting the new competition get to him. Even with wet Latvian weather dampening his training in the weeks leading up to London, Strombergs remained so focused on Gold that he eased up on social networking in preparation. “Less Twitter, more focus on the race,” he wrote in July.
BMX racing makes its second appearance as an Olympic sport in London, UK.
Wednesday, August 8
Women’s Seeding, 10 a.m. ET
Men’s Seeding 10:40 a.m. ET
Thursday, August 9
Men’s Quarterfinals, 10 a.m. ET
Friday, August 10
Women’s Semifinals, 10 a.m. ET
Women’s Finals, 11:30 a.m. ETMen’s Finals, 11:40 a.m. ET
Strombergs races Olympic Time Trials against 32 of the world’s fastest male BMX racers on Wednesday, August 8.
Last year at the Olympic test event in London, UK, riders were not too pleased with the track design. In the wake of the test event, the Olympic BMX track was scaled down to accommodate rider’s tastes and allow for a better race. Team USA’s David Herman, who has been training at the Olympic Test Center (OTC) in Chula Vista, Calif., is confident in the design of the track and his skills. According to Herman, “The course here [in London] is really good. They pulled out all the stops to make this a world class track. We also have a replica in Chula Vista that we’ve been training on, and I think the replica is a little bit harder, so I’m prepared for this track.”
“I think this track suits me. It’s a nice long track, with a lot of pedaling,” he added. The Olympic BMX track is 450 meters for men and 440 meters for women.
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesTeam USA’s David Herman (left) and Connor Fields (right) at the Olympic Training Center in Calif.
Herman, 24, known as “The Hermanator” throughout the BMX world, makes his first Olympic appearance on Wednesday, and his goals are well defined. “My goal headed into this Olympics is to get a medal. I’m coming off the best season I’ve ever had. I was able to get three World Cup podiums in the last ten months and fifth at the World Championships, so anything but a medal would be disappointing. The opportunity to compete here and represent my country is already one big goal completed and now it is time for the next,” he said earlier this week.
The BMX competitors were allowed to walk the track on Sunday, with practice beginning on Tuesday. After the Games, the BMX Track will be open to the general public as part of the Velopark in the Olympic Park.
Last summer’s Olympic test event served as a bold reminder that London, England is often plagued by rain. Following last year’s Time Trials, rain began on Saturday at the test event, and continued throughout the day. Organizers scrambled. At first, it seemed as though the Time Trial results would become the final race outcome. And then, the rain cleared and the track dried. Organizers shortened the amount of races and proceeded with the event, giving Marc Willers and Shanaze Reade elite wins.
This week, with temperatures in the high 70s, the chance of rain in London is remarkably low. According to weather reports, the chance of rain is 20% on Wednesday, and 0% on Thursday and Friday. As is the case with UK weather, this could change, but Olympic organizers have allowed for enough time to deal with rain delays. And as an added precaution, the track has been covered in tarps when not in use to deter damage from rain.
Courtesy of Mariana PajonTeam Colombia’s Mariana Pajon carrying the Colombian flag during the Opening Ceremony last week.
20-year-old female BMX racer Mariana Pajon carried the Colombian flag during the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games. Her first Olympic appearance, the Medellin, Colombia resident has made a lasting impact on the international BMX scene over the past several years, with 14 World Champion titles to her name. A month before London, as Pajon prepared for the Olympics at home in Medellin, a thief stole Pajon’s bike from her local track. Colleagues of Pajon chased the thief down and retrieved her bike. The thief was able to escape, but Pajon’s Olympic dream was allowed to endure.
This week, Pajon competes against 15 of the world’s world’s fastest female BMX racers, including Team Australia’s Caroline Buchanan, Team USA’s Alise Post and Team France’s Laetitia Le Corguille.
Her battle cry: “I want to win gold.”