If you're into Freestyle BMX, there is a good chance you've heard that it's making its Olympic Games debut in Tokyo 2020. This is pretty massive news for the sport - and for the athletes involved. The Olympics is the pinnacle of global sport - it's the largest sporting event in the world by a country mile - and now, alongside international sporting icons, we'll have Freestyle BMX Riders competing.
This has lead to a lot of changes in how BMX is run globally. For the past 30 years, it's been pretty "freestyle" - there have been X-Games, Dew Tour, BMX Worlds, Free Flow Tours, Planet X Games, and a whole bunch of other contest series come and go. But the Olympics is a lot more structured than that - and that has lead to a lot more structure being put in place around Freestyle BMX. We now have a World Cup (FISE), World Championship, and National Championships all around the world. Plus, people keep talking about UCI Points... so, what is all this and what does it mean? Let's take it from the top...
The UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) is the international body that represents all cycling disciplines at the Olympic Games and organises most bike riding events globally. They look after road cycling, track cycling, BMX race, MTB racing and now, freestyle BMX. They administer the global points system, oversee the major championships, create the event rule books, accredit the judges and oversee the Olympic Qualification. They have enlisted plenty of BMX legends to help with this - guys like Van Homan (who runs a lot of the event judging) and more locally, Dave Dilleward.
FISE is the international World Cup event series. This is the largest series and the points winner at the end is crowned the FISE World Cup Champ - one of the most sought after crowns. FISE events are classified as "World Cup" level - these events make up the international competition tour.
The World Championships is the next level up - it is not a series, but a one-off event where (winner takes all!). The World Champion gets to wear the "Rainbow Jersey" for the full year - just like the world champions in in other cycling disciplines.
Well - if you like riding competitions, it means there is a pretty clear path. To ride in a FISE World Cup event, you must earn at least 50 UCI Points to qualify. You can do this by competing locally in C1 Events, National Championships or Regional Championships like the Oceania's. By riding these, and placing well, you can qualify to enter a World Cup Event.
Once you make it to the World Cup series, you can earn more UCI points and put yourself in contention for the Australian Freestyle BMX Team. To ride at a World Championship you need to be selected by your country. Our current Aus Team includes Logan Martin, Jake Wallwork, Brandon Loupos & Natalya Diehm.
So, where do you start? Well, the best chance is to sign up one of the categories at the Oceania Championships on Dec 7-8th. There are 2x Elite Category events (the C1 & Oceania Champs) where you can earn UCI Points and there are 3 other categories (Under 12s, Under 16s and Open Amateur) for young shredders to get some competition practice.
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At this stage, there are only 9 Men & 9 Women who get to ride the Olympics. So to get here, your nation has to qualify. Our nation qualifies through our two highest placed athletes on the points table, within the qualification period. Once your nation qualifies for a spot, the nation has to choose who to send (much like the World Championships). You can also qualify by being one of the the highest placed riders at the World Championships, whose nation hasn't already qualified - this is to even out the chances for smaller nations who might only have one athlete.
Ok - obviously this is a pretty quick summary of the whole thing. There is a lot going on and a lot of things changing in a really short space of time. But the bottom line, is that Freestyle BMX is getting more "official" than ever before. And we think that's rad! It's going to bring more media to the sport, more opportunities for the riders, and hopefully, give more kids the inspiration to get out and have fun riding bikes.
One thing I do always want to add when talking about this competition stuff - Freestyle BMX is not all about comps - never has been and never will be. There is a lot of hate floating around about the UCI, their role and the whole Olympic thing. If you aren't into comps - no worries - don't enter them. Freestyle BMX is always going to be about riding and enjoying it - whether that's jumping off gutters, doing kick-outs or double flips. However you get your kicks, all power to you! We just doing see any point in hating or putting down how others get theirs...
Rampfest Owner / BMX Rider