Is Connor Fields OK? BMX rider awake after spine-chilling crash at Olympics semis run
American professional BMX racer Connor Fields reportedly crashed heavily in the third run of his semi-final in the Tokyo Olympic men's BMX race on Friday, July 30 (Japanese Time) and was taken off the track on a stretcher. A team spokesperson later said that he was “awake and awaiting further medical evaluation”.
As per CNN, Fields suffered a “dramatic fall” at the Ariake Urban Sports Park after appearing to tangle with another competitor when taking a corner. The 28-year-old, who was the gold medal winner at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and one of the favorites to win in Tokyo, hit the ground hard.
Reportedly, he was tended to for several minutes before he was taken off the course in a stretcher. He was quickly loaded into an ambulance and taken to the hospital.
"We can confirm that Connor Fields is awake and awaiting further medical evaluation. We will share additional updates as they become available," said a USA Cycling BMX spokesperson at the Olympics.
As per reports, Australian rider Saya Sakakibara went down in her event just minutes after Fields. However, she managed to escape serious injury and was able to conduct an interview a short time later. The Australian BMX racer said she was racing for both herself and her brother Kai, who would have been in Tokyo too but suffered a serious crash last year which left him with permanent brain damage.
After 30 minutes of mild concussion symptoms, as per The Guardian, Sakakibara was medically cleared — she had bumps and bruises. “Definitely confused, I honestly don’t really know what happened,” she said after. “But I know that I was riding really well. My starts were going really well. I came down with Alise, who caught up with me, we came down together. That’s all I remember. This is so disappointing. I feel like I have let everyone down. I let everyone down, especially my brother.”
Kai, however, said he was proud of his sister. “Saya, I know this isn’t what you wanted,” he said. “But either way I’m really proud, and let’s go prepare for the next one.”
As per Reuters, the semi-finals had been delayed for 45 minutes by rain and when racing began, there were several big crashes. "I don't think that the track or the weather had anything to do with the crashes," said Dutch rider Merel Smulders, who took bronze in the women's race after her sister Laura also crashed in the semi-finals. "You know, it's the semi-finals of the Olympics and everyone rides with emotion and they take more risks than normal. I feel like there were a lot more crashes in Rio. But there were some bad crashes today and no one wants to see that."
Niek Kimmann of the Netherlands won his country's first Olympic gold medal in BMX Racing at the event. "Since the pandemic hit I've had one goal, one goal, and that goal was today," said Kimmann after the win. "I still don't believe I have it. I'm from the Netherlands. It's a small country. But I know other friends who have won gold medals, so I always felt like I was the one missing it.”