‘I thought my dream was over’: BMX racer who crashed after official walked onto course wins Tokyo Olympic gold

After being seen by doctors and undergoing an MRI scan, Niek Kimmann was untouchable in the final races

Niek Kimmann win Olympic gold
Niek Kimmann win Olympic gold
(Image credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images))

The BMX racer who was knocked off his bike by an official made a remarkable comeback to win gold in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

Dutchman Niek Kimmann hit the headlines earlier this week after he was involved in an crash with an Olympic worker during a practice session on the BMX track at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. 

Kimmann, 25, feared the premature end to his games after the fall, as he suffered an injured knee in the incident, ahead of the qualifying rounds on Thursday (July 29).

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But after consulting with doctors and undergoing an MRI scan, Kimmann was able to compete in the quarter-finals to make it through to the final day of racing on Friday, where he dominated the qualifying rounds.

After winning all three of his runs in the semi-finals, Kimmann went into the gold medal final as the hot favourite, and he delivered on the expectation to take a thrilling gold medal ahead of Britain’s Kye Whyte in second. 

Speaking after his result, Kimmann said: “This week has been an emotional roller-coaster. After I hit the official (on Monday) I thought my dream was over basically, but after speaking with the doctors and getting an MRI scan, we realised it would be possible to race. It wouldn’t be comfortable, but it would be possible. So I skipped the last three track sessions just to give my knee the best chance possible. Yesterday was just all about surviving and making it through to today.

“I was mentally prepared that today was going to be really, really tough. On this level, even if you’re physically in the best shape ever, it’s still tough. But knowing how my knee felt, I was just mentally prepared to struggle.

“The last Olympic cycle has been a roller-coaster, but the last four days were a story itself.”

He added: “I think we all know that there are risks to our sport, but at the end of the day we just love our sport so much. When we have an injury the first thing we think about is when can we get back on the track. There are risks to any sport, but the biggest thing is the passion that we have. It’s just so much fun to go fast and jump and race other riders.” 

The BMX finals were a thrilling continuation of the cycling events in the Tokyo 2020 Games, as Kimmann took gold in the men’s event, while Whyte became the first ever British medallist in Olympic BMX racing.

>>> Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games cycling schedule: when to watch the racing

In the women’s event, Team GB’s Bethany Shriever made history again by taking the gold medal, dominating the field and beating multiple Olympic champion Mariana Pajon. 

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.