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BMX bandits out to steal gold
Doug Conway, AAP Senior Correspondent
01:48 AEST Thu Aug 9 2012

It's fast, risky, requires a short attention span, looks like a video game and is made for teens and 20-somethings. No wonder BMX racing is seen as a bridge to the Olympic future for generation Now.

Launched off an eight-metre ramp, the riders approach speeds of 70 kph within two seconds. It's said to feel like riding a roller coaster. They can fly up to five metres over the jumps.

One section of the course looks like the sand dunes of the Sahara. The women disappear down a tunnel for a couple of seconds (fuddy-duddies in the 116-year-old modern Olympic movement might wish they'd stay there) before emerging into a sharp U-bend.

No woman was faster than Canberra's triple world champion Caroline "Canonball" Buchanan in Wednesday's time trials, designed to sort out seedings and gate selections.

Anyone who thought it was tame to see riders go round one by one, instead of helter skelter in groups, had cause to think again when American Brooke Crain crashed heavily into one of the mounds, her bike springing over her head and off the 440-metre track. Latvian Edzus Treimanis made a "face plant" at the same spot later in the men's. Both were OK.

Buchanan's biggest supporters include surfer Layne Beachley, who is young and hip enough to be tapped by the sport's promoters, and marathon man Robert de Castella, who isn't. Sorry Deek, but the `tache was too Tom Selleck and those inspiring runs occurred before most of these kids were born. Only two of the 48 competitors in London have hit 30.

Buchanan's biggest threats include Londoner Shanaze Read, who won two world team sprint titles on the big bikes with British Olympic heroine Victoria Pendleton, who is her roommate in the Olympic village.

"If another British athlete is winning, why can't you?" Read asks herself.

Olympic riders like Aussies Khalen Young, Brian Kirkham and Sam Willoughby are likely to be instant heroes for any kids who have scraped themselves riding bikes in the street, which is practically everyone.

During the interval between the women's and men's time trials, entertainment was provided by young men launching their bikes off a ramp and up over a bar at pole vault height. No mats awaited them, just a hard track.

They looked like cool cats but their mums would have been having kittens.

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Opening Ceremony
Archery
Athletics
Badminton
Basketball
Beach Volleyball
Boxing
BMX
Cycling
Diving
Equestrian
Fencing
Football
Gymnastics
Handball
Hockey
Judo
Modern Pentathlon
Rowing/Canoe/Kayak
Sailing
Shooting
Swimming
Synchro
Table Tennis
Taekwondo
Tennis
Triathlon
Volleyball
Water Polo
Weightlifting
Wrestling
Closing ceremony
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