Tag Archives: 2016 Olympics

Having a go at BMX racing

Watching the BMX riders at the 2016 Rio Olympics riding at full speed and flying over those bumps made up my mind that I should give BMX cycling another go. 

The last time I tried it was was four or five years ago. It was a wet, damp day and I remember skidding on a curved bend in the track. Covered in mud and with cuts on my hands and knees, I decided to never try BMX again…


BMX cycling began in the 1970s in the United States where kids in Southern California rode their bikes on dirt tracks. The inspiration came from motorcross stars. The sport is hugely popular in the UK where it was first introduced around about the 1980s.

Since then, BMX racing has become more popular than freestyle BMX, eventually becoming an Olympic event at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Mat Hoffman is one of the best freestyle BMX in the world. Nicknamed ‘The Condor’ he is known for nailing dangerous tricks such as a 900 in events.

This video shows Hoffman showcasing his tricks at BMX free-styling events.YouTube Preview Image

Trying again

So on a sunny, winter morning, I decided to take my bike out and go for a normal bike ride through Brixton and Tulse Hill. I rode through Brockwell Park, where the BMX circuit was free and waiting for me to do my stuff.

I began going around the track slowly, wary of skidding or falling again. It was fun but I felt I should speed up. Luckily the track was not damp and wet like the last time, so it was easier to go around the bends with ease.

I was not able to do fancy tricks or anything like that but being able to ride the track at full speed was an enjoyable experience – much better than the last time, that’s for sure…

Learning from the experts

A coaching session was just getting under way,  with young riders doing some practice laps to get them warmed up.

“Seeing them flash past made my earlier efforts look like a Tata Nano compared to their Bugatti Veyron”

I spoke to one of the coaches, Andy, who has been training BMXers for six years. He told me: “BMX racing is really competitive and a lot more goes into the sport rather than just riding a bike around a lap.

“The training consists of strength drills, a lot of cardio such as star-jumps. Riders can get serious injuries if they do not train right, follow the right diet and other small factors. Essentially they are athletes.

“I have seen many riders have their careers ended early because they did not listen to their trainers, but sometimes those injuries can come from during the races itself. It’s can be dangerous but it’s a competitive and fun sport to watch as well as participating in.”

As we talked, the riders began doing some fancy tricks as well as trying to beat their personal bests in a race. Seeing them flash past made my earlier efforts look like a Tata Nano compared to their Bugatti Veyron.

Give it a go

Andy decided to organise one big race with all the riders, and asked me if I wanted to join in. Despite my nerves, I said yes.

The race began and the other riders went flying out of the blocks as I tried to keep up with them.

My main aim was not to fall off and totally embarrass myself in front of everyone. Luckily, I didn’t and crossed the line in fifth.

I would really recommend anyone to give it a go. It can be so much fun to try and be extreme and reckless with a bike. It is also always good to try a different sport now and then.

There are some places around London where you can try out BMX racing. Brockwell park in Tulse Hill, South London is one place where you can try it out. Burgess Park also has a track.

For more information about how to get into BMX, visit the British Cycling website.  Feature image courtesy of Phil Connell via Flickr Creative Commons.

Q&A with Vivian Cheruiyot

Vivian Cheruiyot will be chasing the only major medal missing from her collection in Rio this summer – Olympic gold.

The Kenyan distance running superstar reclaimed her 10,000m title at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing last year.

The 31-year-old previously achieved double Worlds glory in the Korean city of Deagu, winning 5,000 and 10,000m gold, but missed out on chance to defend her titles in Moscow three years ago because of her pregnancy.

“I have won the World Championships five times and have Olympic silver and bronze medals but not the gold.  I want a gold in 2016”

After giving birth to a son in October 2013, Cheruiyot returned to training the following June 2014, but she and husband Moses Kiplagat, who is also her coach, decided to opt out of a bid for a place on the Kenyan team going to the IAAF World Cross Country in Guiyang, China, last March.

Instead, they wanted to focus their attention on making the national team for the longer event on the track in Beijing.

Before taking time off to start a family, Cheruiyot’s last competitive race was during the London 2012 Olympics whereby she won the bronze medal, but was disappointed she couldn’t bring back home the gold.

She took time off her preparations for the 2016 Olympics to talk to Elephant Sport about her comeback and goals for 2016.

How did you get into long-distance running? 

I started running at school when I was very young.  Kenya is famous for long-distance runners and I was able to win against people my own age and older.

How did your first competitive race feel after coming back from maternity leave?

I took my time getting back into competition.  I knew I was not in my top shape so I raced conservatively at first.  Normally, I was used to pushing the pace from the start, but in my first few races I started conservatively and tried to finish strong.

What is your training regime like and have you made any changes? 

It is the same as it was before I had my child.  I train six days per week and rest on Sunday.  I combine track sessions, long runs, hill work , tempo runs and gym.

What motivated you to get back to your best after your maternity leave?

I missed the World Championships in 2013 as I was heavily pregnant, so wanted to try to get back for the 2015 World Championships.

Did you ever consider putting your career on hold to focus all your attention on being a full-time mother?

No, I knew I would get back into competition.

How do you manage to balance your career as an athlete around your home and family life?

I have a very supportive husband and family who help me.

What are your goals for 2016?

I have won the World Championships five times and have Olympic silver and bronze medals but not the gold.  I want a gold in 2016.

What do you prefer – track or cross country, and why?

I prefer track.  Cross country can be unpredictable with the weather and surface underfoot.

What do you do to stay focused during a race?

I train hard to make sure that I can finish the race strong.  Normally in a race, I am just thinking about the pace and the other competitors.

You can follow Vivian on Twitter @VivianCheruiyot