LONDON (Reuters) - Filled with adrenalin and peppered with spectacular crashes, BMX has been trying to make its case as an Olympic sport in just its second appearance at the Games.
Flying through the air like the scene from the movie "ET", the riders have been appealing to the younger generations, with soccer great David Beckham bringing his kids to watch Latvia's Maris Strombergs and Colombian Mariana Pajon triumph in the men's and women's finals respectively on Friday.
"It doesn't take a very big attention span. It's over in 40 seconds and it is exciting as everyone has seen," said Australian silver medalist Sam Willoughby.
"I haven't seen anyone at this Games who didn't want to watch BMX. It's an action-packed sport with all the things that appeal to the younger generation."
BMX, which this year was held on a 450-metre track (440 meters for women), is not just fun, however, despite the loud music being played throughout the day at the VeloPark.
"For myself, is just gets tougher against these young kids. I can see myself out there. I'm one of the old guys in BMX and I'm just 25," said Strombergs.
Pajon explained that she had to get rid of her girly side to win the women's title.
"Off the track I'm all woman, but on the track I change completely and I become aggressive and I race like a man," she said.
"Then at the end of the race I become a girl again and of course I cried. I didn't believe it. I cried a lot of tears."
New Zealand's Sarah Walker said there had already been improvement in the sport since it made its first Olympic appearance in Beijing four years ago.
"The depth in the women's field now is crazy," said the silver medalist.
Asked if the final, decided over only one run which lasts about 40 seconds, was too much of a lottery, Walker said even the semi-finals, decided over three runs at the Olympics, were on one run only in World Cup events.
"You could race that race 20 minutes later and the result would be totally different," she said.
But that is the beauty of the sport.
"It was scary that four years of hard work would come down to 40 seconds," Walker said.
Laura Smulders of the Netherlands, the bronze medalist, added that BMX was more competitive than ever.
"In Beijing the track was smaller, here in London the jumps are bigger, too," she said. "Now BMX is a bigger sport."
(Editing by Alison Williams)