All three of the men and two women on Team USA advanced to the BMX semifinals by posting top finishes in their quarterfinal rounds at the Rio Olympics on Thursday.
It was a windy day in Rio for the quarterfinals, in which four heats of eight riders each completed three runs of the BMX course for the men.
Points were awarded based on finishing place and each heat’s top four riders (those with the fewest points after three runs) advanced.
Connor Fields (Henderson, Nev.) and Corben Sharrah (Tucson, Ariz.), who were the fourth and fifth fastest in time trial seeding on Wednesday, both represented the USA in heat four.
Fields won the first run, was fourth in the second run, and placed third in the third run for a total of eight points to advance.
“The name of the game is just consistency and getting yourself into that final…being one of the eight guys that lines up in a medal race,” Fields said. “First, fourth and third today puts me through for tomorrow, and I didn’t hit the ground. You can’t really ask for more than that. It’s a new day tomorrow.”
Sharrah was fourth in run one, third in run two, and second in run three to accumulate nine points. Going into the third run, he had to be in the top five in order to advance.
“I wanted the hole shot and wanted to get a good gate. I got a good gate but wasn’t able to come all the way over. But I still finished in the top three which puts me in the show tomorrow,” he said.
Nic Long (Lakeside, Calif.) was in heat one and after a fifth-place finish in run one and a fourth-place finish in run two, the pressure was on to perform in the third and final run. The American won his final run, and with a total of 10 points he advanced to the semifinals.
“I just tried to get out of the gate as fast as possible and tried to put the lap in my hands and not have to deal with anybody else,” he explained of his final run. “The track is good. It’s fun. It’s hard to race on. And it’s super windy out here so you’re trying to battle the people as much as the wind.”
Fields, Sharrah and Long will join 13 other men in the semifinals on Friday.
Semifinals for both men and women will begin at 12:30 ET on Friday, and then the finals start at 2 p.m. ET on Friday.
In addition to Fields, Sharrah and Long, Alise Post (Chula Vista, Calif.) and Brooke Crain (Visalia, Calif.) will represent the USA in the semifinal rounds against 14 other women.