TOKYO — New for the Tokyo Games, BMX freestyle is an expert display of bike handling and airborne trickery as riders soar through a ramped course exclusive to their 20-inch wheeled bicycles.
The ramps have a variety of transitions, thrusting riders skyward before they land back in the ramp and onto the next trick.
It sometimes appeared as if the riders were in a video game.
They spin their handlebars or the bike frame under their body in midair, as much as three times in a single move. All of those tricks are done with a calm awareness to find the handlebars or pedals when it is time to return to Earth, where a panel of judges score them in cycling’s only judged event.
At the inaugural BMX Freestyle event in Tokyo some subdued drama unfolded. On the women’s side, Hannah Roberts appeared to be in a class of her own. After the first runs she sat easily in first place, scoring a 96.10 out of 100, her nearest competitor was almost seven points back.
But Sunday was not Roberts’s day, and she had to settle for silver. Charlotte Worthington of Britain, who crashed in her first run, was able to land a 360 back flip, a first in women’s competition, with several other difficult tricks to take the win.
On the men’s side, Australia’s Logan Martin dominated on his first run and remained unchallenged into the second runs. With three riders left, it looked as if Costa Rica was going to earn its first medal of the Games with Kenneth Tencio Esquivel sitting in third. But Venezuela’s Daniel Dhers used his second run to move into position for silver. That was enough to bump Costa Rica out of contention for a medal.
When Declan Brooks won the bronze, Britain had taken a third of all the BMX medals, with one rider winning a medal in each of the disciplines.