Don’t try this at home

2010-07-31 00:00

THE second day of the UCI BMX World Championships at the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg reminded spectators why BMX is considered an “extreme” sport.

World champions were crowned in 11 different categories, with South Africa’s best result coming in the person of Jonnathan Chislett, who finished second in the 25–29 Challenge final.

For many of the fans seated in the stands, though, it was the number of crashes that occurred during the day’s racing that provided the most intense viewing.

The medical team was kept very busy as riders crashed out in various races throughout the day and even in the practice sessions that were held for the “junior elite” and “elite” riders in the afternoon session. At least three riders were admitted to St Anne’s Hospital during the course of the day.

The Weekend Witness spoke to a couple of the team coaches at the championships, asking them about their views on the challenges and dangers of BMX racing.

Mike King, BMX programme director for USA Cycling, said that he considered BMXing to be as dangerous as the rider’s talents allowed it to be.

“If the rider is technically sound and professional, then he will limit the possibility of making a mistake,” King explained. “We do have a team doctor who can advise the riders on what to do after they have a knock and that can be beneficial.”

Team USA lost two of its most promising riders just a couple of weeks before the world championships began when former world champion Danny Robinson collided with the fans’ world championship favourite Kyle Bennett, ending both of their hopes of excelling in Pietermaritzburg.

King added that the most common injuries sustained by BMX riders include concussion and shoulder injuries.

“But it’s really hard to know because it depends on how you land,” he said.

New Zealand team coach Ken Cools agreed with King, saying that head injuries and collar bone injuries are among the most common in BMX.

“Wrist, ankle and knee injuries are also pretty common,” he said.

The New Zealand team also has an advanced medical team with them at the championships, providing physiotherapists, acupuncturists and nutritionists to cater for the riders’ needs.

Cools added that he considers BMXing to be as dangerous as any other sport.

“The other day at our hotel somebody fell down the stairs and broke his ankle,” he said.

“The riders learn how to fall and be safe. Everything has a danger attached to it.”

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