By Greg Johnson
Bicycle Moto Cross is set to explode onto the Olympic Games this evening, with the high-thrill, frequent-spill cycling discipline landing a prime-time television slot in the United States of America. The broadcast slot not only plays towards the International Olympic Committee’s desire to reach the ‘Generation Y’ market, but also allows BMX World Cup winner Donny Robinson to vie for gold under the watchful eye of his compatriots.
The television coverage in the world’s biggest English speaking market is yet another coup for BMX. Over the past 40 years the sport has grown from a back-yard hobby and is now just hours away from the holy grail - its first Olympiad.
"A lot of people are drawing parallels to the impact that snowboarding has had on the winter games," said USA Cycling’s Andy Lee told KansasCity.com. "It translates to TV very easily. It's exciting. There's a lot of drama. There can be crashes."
Action in the eight-rider, knock-out competition that is BMX racing can be summed up in a word - Kamakazi. Of course, in a display that sums up the BMX punk market, that’s actually one of the competitor’s names. The Australian competitor formerly known as Jamie Hildebrandt changed his name to Kamakazi, spelt incorrectly to avoid association with suicide bombers, at the deed poll office some seven years ago. It’s a $280 investment the 27 year-old doesn’t regret making.
"It's nothing like what's in the Games at the moment," Kamakazi told The Age of his sport’s Olympic induction. "What we're doing, it's almost death-defying. If you crash, there's going to be broken bones, there's going to be skin off, there's going to be all sorts of mayhem. Anything can - and will - happen on this track."
Kamakazi joins a strong Australian squad at his sport’s Olympic debut. In its ranks is BMX World Cup runner up Jared Graves and sixth placed on world standings Luke Madill. Showing his dedication to the sport’s Olympic debut, Madill actually built a replica of the Beijing BMX track in his back yard, where the Australian team members have spent some time training.
As the top-ranked nation in the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) Elite Men’s standings, USA will be a strong contender in the men’s race. Robinson will be joined by North America rankings leader Kyle Bennett and the big name in American BMX Mike Day.
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