Last week it was announced that BMX Freestyle Park will be an event in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Obviously there have been quite a few opinions floating around... But what do the riders think about Olympic BMX?
"Having BMX go that step further to the Olympics is just unreal. We've never really had that opportunity before so to be a part of the GB team would just mean a hell of a lot. To be an olympian... There's probably not much you'd want more than that, being a sportsman. I definitely want to be on that squad."
"I think it's sick BMX being in the Olympics. It's going to take a lot of organising and planning, but it's gonna work for sure.
They have so many goofy sports in the Olympics, BMX is gonna shine!
Finding the best all around judges is going to be the hardest part, but once they dial that in, all it's going to take is a badass park and the world's best riders and it's on!"
"They have so many goofy sports in the Olympics, BMX is gonna shine!"
"Do you think I will get in for Ireland? Haha... Will I be too old at 34 in 2020?
On a serious note, yeah I feel it's a good thing. I feel it's about time BMXers get recognised for the true talent and skill that they have on a more mainstream level. It's a sad thing that myself and other BMXers alike put so much time, love and effort into the sport that we feel so passionate about, not to be rewarded and recognised as professional athletes unlike other sports. I feel by BMX going into the Olympics it will allow this to happen.
In the mean time I'm off to do up my van as I need a house to live in when BMX ends..."
"There are always going to be advantages and disadvantages when it comes to a sport heading into the Olympics, the question is: will the good outweigh the bad? If managed correctly with a good mix of the 'right' people, BMX can benefit from this greatly. If the presence of BMX in the Olympics provides more skateparks nationally and globally then I think it will be great for all riders, regardless of their level.
The tricky thing is everyone has their own opinion about how BMX should be portrayed, hence the reason why it is called freestyle BMX. Development needs to prevail and new opportunities need to be explored, which the Olympics could and should provide. Though many variables will play a part on how successful it will be for the riders and BMX.
All sports go through stages of growth when they are encountered with popularity, whether people want it or not. But at the end of the day if there are kids out there getting stoked on BMX whether it is watching the Olympics or attending a local BMX jam, and understand that freestyle BMX is not a 'sport' where they must abide by rules when it comes to using their imagination on a BMX bike, then we're onto a winner.
"The question is... Will the good outweigh the bad?"
It can only be done right if the IOC (International Olympic Committee) takes information and criticism on board from the BMX industry guys working alongside the IOC, other knowledgeable BMX industry people, and most importantly the riders who are involved. Communication is fundamental."
"It's a good thing for BMX, 100%. The more exposure the better, I think. The Olympics is the pinnacle. Growing up, watching the games, everyone is at the top of their sport. To get BMX in the olympics is literally amazing.
Coaches, I don't know about, it's an individual sport, but I think more and more riders are becoming proper athletes. They're training more, eating properly, looking after themselves to make a difference to their performance. Over the last year or two I've seen it pick up a lot, and the next few years going into the olympics it's gonna pick up even more."
"I think it was only a matter of time. I watch some of the sports in the Olympics and wonder how people even get involved in them, like handball or volleyball.
In general the Olympics brings the country together to get behind all the athletes, so if that means people are cheering on someone like Coleborn that's sweet.
I think overall it's good. The level of riding will be insane, so the general public will respect that. Hopefully they will think it's 'cool' even with the matching country's kit, this will drive sales in the industry. But! I'm gonna compare it to FISE and to be honest I watched Logan Martin's runs on Instagram and that was it. Runs were flawless for sure. Creativity not so much. This may help make the other comps like the Vans Pro Cup stand out. Riders stoked on watching other riders.
"It's kinda like when team GB had an Olympic football team – it's cool but there's much more to football than the Olympics. Same for BMX."
The Olympics will not be like that. Riders will be more stoked on watching a rider slip a pedal or case in his run as there is so much at stake. Also the general public will think that barspins and tailwhips are harder than Bohan's one handed table as that's all they will see. But then again I'm not that worried about that, if it means more facilities are built, then sweet. As you can tell I have no idea if it's good, bad or ugly.
But am I stoked?! I wouldn't use that word, no. It's kinda like when team GB had a football team in it. It's cool but there's much more to football than the Olympics. Same for BMX."
"I can’t say I’m overly stoked on it but I’m also not bummed. BMX is far more popular than a lot of the other sports in the Olympics, take archery for example. So in that sense I would say it deserves a place there. In a lot of people’s eyes this will legitimise freestyle BMX… A lot of those people will be in positions of influence or power. This could mean it is possible that more skateparks may be built, particularly in places where they barely exist or don’t exist at all.
That being said, adding freestyle BMX to the Olympics may delegitimise the sport in some ways. The identity and freedom allowed in freestyle BMX are what make it what it is. The IOC seem to fundamentally oppose a lot of that.
I don’t think freestyle BMX particularly needs the Olympics. Skateparks are constantly being built and contests being held without any governing body. It happens naturally and organically, leaving the entire scene flooded with diversity, creativity, and freedom.
"At the very least, a lot of people will see freestyle BMX for the first time."
What it’s really going to come down to is which people get involved, how in touch they are to the current BMX scene and how committed they are to making all aspects of the process fair. I’ve already heard of some European national teams being formed with riders and coaches that may not be most qualified or most deserving.
At the end of the day I don’t think it’s going to have any negative effect on BMX. Regardless of how it goes, BMX will always carry on doing its own thing in the background. What remains to be seen is if it will make a positive impact and not just be a circus act with strings pulled by the greedy leeches of bureaucracy.
I do hope it’s positive. At the very least, a lot of people will see freestyle BMX for the first time."
"Rules, formats... this is nothing new for Freestyle competition. Any event that you attend has rules and formats. That goes for street, park, dirt, vert, or flat. So no big deal on that.
The thing that I keep returning to is that Freestyle is truly FREE. You can do whatever you want to do on your bike. You can try to be an Olympian or you can hang out in the woods with your friends building and riding trails. You can train hard, or you could have amazing laughs with your friends just cruising the streets. It's completely up to you. Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything.
What the Olympics does provide is the possibility for a rider to take their experience to the next level. To fulfil a dream that wasn't there before. It puts BMX in front of a larger audience and legitimises what we do, in the eyes of the everyday Joe, who may not understand it. It has the potential to bridge the gap between municipalities and the riders. Women Freestylers will be able to compete on a level that they've never had before, and hopefully create some amazing opportunities for them. It's an open door and you can choose to go through it or not. Either way, Freestyle will remain whole and intact.
"Freestyle will always be free.
What you create from it is up to you."
When X Games came on the scene, there were similar discussions. Was this going ruin our sport...? Was this the end of FREEstyle...? etc. Many of today's top pros and industry elites got into BMX because they saw it on TV and wanted to do what those heroes were doing. Did it ruin what Freestyle is today? No. People are still choosing to do what they love to do on their bikes, whether that be in front of thousands of people or in their front yard. Freestyle will always be free. What you create from it is up to you."