The BMX test event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games had to be cancelled after heavy rain forced organisers to end the competition at the quarter-final stage.
The International BMX Challenge had already been put back a day after riders complained of an unsafe course, prompting the International Cycling Union (UCI) to ask organisers to make changes.
But modifications to some areas of the men’s course weren’t finished in time, causing both events to be held on the women’s 327 metres track.
After the event, held at the Deodoro Olympic Park, got underway, the men’s and women’s pre-qualification and quarter-final rounds took place before the rain brought a premature end to the competition, which featured many of the world’s top BMX riders.
According to Brazilian news agency UOL, two local riders, Rogerio dos Reis and Bianca Quinalha, suffered suspected fractures during heavy falls but it is not known whether this was caused by the slippery conditions of the course.
Despite a host of problems for organisers of the test event, which began with dissent from riders about an “unsafe” and “sub-standard” course, Rio 2016’s executive director of sport Agberto Guimarães maintained the competition was a success.
“It was a complete test,” he said.
“We had everything this weekend.
“It has been the event that has most allowed us to test our ability to resolve problems, starting with the athletes’ protest in relation to the course on Friday and continuing with the rain.
“It was a good opportunity to test all of our group and see the speed at which we can react.
“As well as the adjustments we made to the track, other important tests were done, such as in technology operations and medical services.
“The men and women could test their courses during training and they gave us more information to work with and now we know what we need to do for everything to be perfect during the Games.”
Due to the cancellation of the event, medals were awarded based on the best recorded times up until the quarter-finals, with reigning Olympic champion Mariana Pajón claiming the women’s honours ahead of Brooke Crain of the United States and Venezuela’s Stefany Hernandez.
Latvian Edzus Treimanis won the men’s competition, beating France’s Amidou Mir and home favourite Renato Rezende.
Kevin MacCuish, the UCI’s BMX coordinator, also insisted the event had gone well, adding that they were “confident we can overcome whatever minor issues we encountered”.
“We are going to be ready for 2016,” he said.
“The next steps are going to be a debriefing, to take in the feedback that we received from the riders on the track, and then we need to process this and make some decisions about what further changes we need to make to the track.
“We also need to do a debrief on the other systems that were tested and figure out what needs to be improved.”
The X-Park venue will play host to a mountain biking test event on October 11 before a canoe slalom event will be held on the Deodoro Olympic Park from November 26 to 29.
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