bmx

Getty Images

Olympic BMX hopeful in medically-induced coma after crash

Leave a comment

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian Olympic BMX cycling hopeful Kai Sakakibara is in a medically-induced coma in Canberra Hospital after sustaining serious head injuries in a weekend racing accident.

The 23-year-old rider underwent surgery on Sunday morning to relieve pressure on his brain following the Saturday crash. Described as being in a critical but stable condition, Sakakibara is expected to remain in a coma for the next two weeks.

Sakakibara, ranked 10th in the world, was aiming to make his Olympic debut in Japan, where he spent part of his childhood after being born on the Gold Coast in Australia.

“We understand the road ahead will be a long and difficult one, we are staying positive and taking things day by day,” a statement from Sakakibara’s family said Wednesday. “There isn’t much we can do at this point, but Kai needs your support and your positive energy sent his way.”

Sakakibara fell on the second corner during his opening-round heat at a World Cup event in Bathurst, 125 miles northwest of Sydney, and was treated on site by paramedics and a doctor before he was airlifted to hospital.

He began racing as a four-year-old, moving to Tokyo in 2000 and collecting multiple national titles before returning to Australia in 2008.

Sakakibara’s parents Martin and Yuki said their son’s BMX career was “on hold for now” as they focused on his long-term rehabilitation.

Hannah Roberts is first U.S. Olympic qualifier in BMX freestyle

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Hannah Roberts, an 18-year-old world champion, is the first American to qualify for BMX freestyle’s Olympic debut.

Roberts already clinched the top spot in USA Cycling rankings come a May 12 cutoff, according to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

In November, Roberts earned her second world title in three years in BMX freestyle, a judged cycling event that was added to the Olympic program for Tokyo 2020. The Michigan native became the first woman to land a 360 tailwhip in competition.

As many as two Americans per gender can qualify for the Olympics in BMX freestyle, a sister discipline to the BMX race that debuted at the 2008 Beijing Games.

In BMX freestyle, athletes take 60-second runs on park courses with ramps and obstacles to show style and tricks. They are judged on categories including difficulty, originality, execution and overall flow.

Roberts could become the youngest U.S. Olympic cycling medalist since 1912 and the first teenage woman to win an Olympic cycling title from any country.

She ascended to the top of her high-flying event after fracturing her T4 vertebra in a crash off a six-foot ramp when she was 10 years old. She was in a back brace for a month and unsure whether her passion for BMX would return.

“It was surprising to me that I wanted to get back on the bike,” she said, according to USA Cycling. “There was a lot of talking myself into it, but I was going crazy not being on my bike. Once back on the bike I knew this was where I wanted to be.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

Hannah Roberts, U.S. star in new Olympic event, claims another world title

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Her event may be new to the Olympics, but Hannah Roberts is well established as one of the U.S.’ top gold-medal hopes for the Tokyo Games.

Roberts, 18, won her second world title in three years in BMX freestyle, a judged cycling event debuting at the Olympics next summer.

The Michigan native scored 90 points for the win in Chengdu, China, on Sunday, becoming the first woman to land a 360 tailwhip in competition. It capped a dominant season for Roberts, who previously won all three World Cup events.

She goes into the Olympic year leading a deep U.S. squad. Roberts earned bronze at the 2018 Worlds as part of a podium sweep with Perris Benegas and Angie Marino. A different U.S. man also earned a medal at all three editions of the world championships, which began in 2017.

Roberts ascended to the top of her high-flying sport after fracturing her T4 vertebra in a crash off a six-foot ramp when she was 10 years old. She was in a back brace for a month and unsure whether her passion for BMX would return.

“It was surprising to me that I wanted to get back on the bike,” she said, according to USA Cycling. “There was a lot of talking myself into it, but I was going crazy not being on my bike. Once back on the bike I knew this was where I wanted to be.”

Roberts could become the youngest U.S. Olympic cycling medalist since 1912 and the first teenage woman to win an Olympic cycling title from any country.

The first Olympic BMX events debuted at the 2008 Beijing Games. Those were the more traditional men’s and women’s races over undulating courses.

In BMX freestyle, athletes take 60-second runs on park courses with ramps and obstacles to show style and tricks. They are judged on categories including difficulty, originality, execution and overall flow.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Taylor Phinney retires from cycling