Despite having its schedule tightened by the impending threat of Typhoon Hagibis, the Tokyo 2020 test event for BMX racing was held successfully at the Ariake Urban Sports Park on Friday 11 October.
After meteorologists warned that the violent weather could disturb the outdoor action at the weekend, all the racing was brought forward – but the world-class riders attending the Ready Steady Tokyo event still thoroughly enjoyed getting to grips with the demanding track. Some 50 men and 45 women from 24 different countries participated. Australia’s Saya Sakakibara won the women’s event and was impressed by what she saw.
“This was special,” she said afterwards. “Having the opportunity to race on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic track was crazy in itself, let alone win the event. “We had the chance to practise in the dry, race the Olympic racing format in the rain and wind, and have a taste of what it might feel like in 10 months’ time for the real thing. “This week made me even more motivated to keep improving to match the difficulty of this track and make sure I do everything I can to represent Australia next year.”
Sakakibara was highly impressive around the technical track, beating the USA’s Alise Willoughby, the reigning world champion, into second place.
Willoughby’s American teammate Felicia Stancil took the bronze and said: “Practiced on the Olympic track, ate sushi and explored Tokyo with some buddies - I think I’m enjoying my time in Japan.”
France’s Romain Mahieu won the men’s elite race. “A long and tiring day of racing but it was cool to race a new track in a new country. Definitely had a lot of fun this week in Japan,” he said.
Niek Kimmann of the Netherlands took silver and David Graf of Switzerland was third.
“Nice to get some race laps in on the Olympic track in Tokyo, even better to finish the race on the box,” said Kimmann, the 2015 World Champion and current UCI BMX Supercross World Cup champion.
The event was the first chance for riders to try out the new track at the Urban Sports Park, located in the stunning waterfront area, close to the Athletes’ Village. The BMX racing track will have space for 5,000 spectators.