BMX, is the newest Olympic sport. The International Olympic Committee voted in 2003 to approve its debut in the 2008 Games this August.
With the Olympic tag comes increased stakes, visibility, and – those in the sport hope – legitimacy.
“We’ve seen the sport elevate to the highest form of racing,” said Mike King, USA cycling’s director of BMX programs. “I hope the Olympics can do for BMX what it did for snowboarding. It’s what the sport needs to grow.”
The Games continue to venture into newfangled, extreme sports to attract a younger audience. The Olympic form of BMX is called supercross. The track in Beijing features a two-story drop at the starting hill, and riders reach speeds of 40 mph at the bottom. Along the dirt track are banked turns, jumps that can launch riders 40 feet through the air and rhythm sections.As many as eight riders at a time go through several heats, or motos, on bikes with 20-inch wheels. Races are one-lap sprints, which rarely last more than 40 seconds.
The three times world BMX champion Kyle Bennett from Conroe, Texas said “I would say supercross tracks are extreme, I definitely get scared. But you adapt.”