Bicycle motocross (BMX) has its roots in California in the late 1960s, around the time that motocross was becoming a popular sport in the United States. Children and teenagers unable to participate in motocross sated their appetite by racing bikes on self-built tracks close to home.
A sanctioning body, the American Bicycle Association, was founded in 1977 and over the next decade the sport gained in international popularity. The sport was introduced to Europe in 1978, which led to the founding of the International BMX Federation in 1981 and the first world championships in 1982. Once it became evident that BMX had more in common with cycling than motorcycling, BMX was integrated into the International Cycling Union in 1993.
BMX is the newest Olympic cycling discipline and made its debut at Beijing 2008. It had debuted at the Pan American Games one year earlier in Rio de Janeiro.
Riders compete on short tracks that include jumps, bumps and tight, banked corners. Eight riders line up side-by-side at the start gate at the top of a steep ramp. When the gate drops, they accelerate down the ramp onto the track, and race shoulder-to-shoulder to the finish. The overall length of a BMX track is between 300 and 400 metres, meaning each race takes about 40 seconds to complete. The men’s track may include slightly bigger jumps than the women’s track.