30 July 13:00 (BST)

A guide to BMX at Glasgow 2018

GLASGOW - BMX is a fast and furious sport in which eight riders race from the top of a starting hill to the finish line in less than a minute of exhilarating action. Riders need skill, strength, agility and no shortage of courage to stay focused - and upright - while navigating a series of tight corners and jumps.

History of the sport
Bicycle motocross (BMX) was born in the late 1960s and 1970s out of the off-road motorcycle race scene in southern California, as kids wanted to emulate their motocross idols on their own dirt bikes.

A famous BMX chase in the 1982 movie E.T. boosted the sport's popularity around the world, and BMX steadily became part of 1980s youth and pop culture. Indeed, many of today's racing kits are a throwback to those colourful graphic designs. 1982 was also the year of the first BMX world and European championships (with several different formats until 2014), although it was only in 1993 that the UCI (International Cycling Union) integrated the discipline.

The inclusion in the X Games in 1995 sealed the status of BMX as a professional extreme sport among hard core fans, but it was not until 2008 that the discipline received worldwide recognition, as it made its debut on the Olympic programme at the Beijing Games.

Format and rules
Riders are seeded into heats of up to eight according to current international ranking.

Riders compete in three rounds of 'motos' (qualifying heats). In each heat eight riders race each other three times and points are awarded according to finish position. Top points scorers across all motos (top four riders of each heat) progress to a series of knockout rounds until the final, which decides the overall winner and podium positions.

Individual races normally last less than a minute and heats and knockout rounds are run in quick succession.

The nature of the competition is such that there is often some contact between riders but deliberate infringements are not permitted.

Venue
BMX at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships will be held on 10 and 11 August at the new Olympic-standard track at Knightswood Park.

Made from compacted dirt and tarmac, the 400-metre track is five metres wide and features straight and 'rhythm' sections - a series of jumps which riders take either in combination or individually, forming their own rhythm over them - banked corners, rollers and a finish line.

The eight-metre starting hill at the beginning of the track provides an initial burst of speed into the first corners. Every obstacle, turn or flat represents an opportunity to pass opponents.

Equipment
BMX racing bikes are compact, simple and strong, with a single gear, 20-inch wheels and usually just a rear brake. They are much smaller than mountain, road or track bikes.

Full-face helmets and full-fingered gloves are compulsory in BMX racing, as crashes can occur in both competition and training. Riders' clothing must also fully cover their skin.

Knee and elbow pads are recommended to provide additional protection.

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