A part of the Olympic programme since 2008, BMX Supercross is a fast, exciting and highly skilled branch of cycling.
BMX Supercross is raced on tracks of approximately 350m in length, with four straights and three corners. An eight-metre high start ramp, with an electronic start gate provides riders with the opportunity to build up high speeds very quickly at the start of a race.
The track also features numerous bumps and jumps. Key skills include the ability to jump from hump to hump, "manual" (lift the front wheel) to speed progress over rolling sections and up the face of jumps and "pumping", where a rider creates speed through the rythmical movement of body weight.
The men's and women's events at London 2012 both start with a seeding phase: each rider runs the track once to determine the seedings, which ensures that the fastest riders don’t meet before the final.
The women progress straight to the semi-finals and the men’s event continues with the quarter-finals, which are held over five runs, with points for places on each run. After three runs, the best two riders from each quarter-final progress to the semi-finals. The remaining riders compete in the final two quarter-final runs and the best two from each quarter-final also progress to the semi-finals.
From here, the semi-finals in both the men’s and women’s events follow a three-run format. The top four riders from each semi-final advance to the final, where the medals are decided over one run.
The battle for first place is fierce, as it is necessary to finish in the first four of the heats to have a place in the next round and then in the final. Depending on the lay-out of the section, the riders try either to land quickly in order to gain speed, or to gain height (riders reach up to nearly five metres high).
If this summer has inspired you to get on a bike...