RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Even when he landed with a fearful crack on the unforgiving concrete of Rio’s BMX track and realized his bike was in pieces, Dutchman Niek Kimmann’s race was not run.
Kimmann, the former world champion, was one of many to fall foul of the 399m circuit’s humps and bumps in Thursday’s quarter-finals, losing control in the second run of his heat.
After scrambling to his feet his next task was to locate his bike, although he might not have bothered because it was minus a front wheel and looked ready for the dumpster.
Unperturbed, the 20-year-old grabbed his mangled frame and hobbled around the second half of the course, reaching the finish line well over a minute after the winner before collapsing and being surrounded by medics.
“On a jump like these, landing on asphalt, you do not want to crash at all,” he told reporters.
“It felt like slow motion, and I thought, ‘This is it, my first Olympics, and it is already over,’ But then I was on the ground. I think I’m OK. Everything hurts but nothing is broken.
I tried to pick up my bike, and then I saw my bike was in three pieces. I took my bike and ran all the way to the finish line. Then I tried to pull myself together.”
Kimmann, like all BMX riders, is made of stern stuff and after grabbing a new bike was back on the eight-meter high start ramp shortly afterwards for the third run, which he completed in third place to scrape into Friday’s semi-finals.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli