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TOKYO — American Connor Fields, a medal favorite in BMX cycling, was awake and awaiting further medical evaluation after crashing during a semifinal heat Friday at the Olympics, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. BMX racing team.
There was no information on Fields’ injuries, said Angelina Palermo, the spokesperson.
Sports Illustrated reported that Fields' father, Mike, said his son was “alert, answering questions and moving all his limbs.”
Fields, 28, was taken off the course on a stretcher, loaded into an ambulance and transported to a hospital.
The crash took place on the first turn of the race. Fields was in second place when his front wheel appeared to catch the back wheel of the leader, France's Romain Mahieu.
Fields tumbled to the ground and two other riders fell over him.
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“It’s anybody at any time,’’ said U.S. racer Corben Sharrah, who was racing in the other semifinal heat. “I mean, nobody’s above a hard fall. I think that’s one thing we all learn as competitors and we all respect and understand about the sport.’’
Carlos Ramirez Yepes of Colombia said he was racing next to Fields at the time of the spill and described it as a “a great, hard slam.’’
“Every time you get on the gate, there’s a risk,’’ he said.
Netherlands’ Niek Kimmann, who won the gold, said it’s sad Fields did not have an opportunity to defend his Olympic gold from the Rio Games.
“I hope he’s OK,’’ Kimmann said. “I think he’s been a great ambassador of the sport.’’
Earlier in the day, during a women's semifinal race, Australian star Saya Sakakibara was taken off the course on a stretcher after crashing. She was clipped from behind by American Alise Willoughby.
But later she told the media she was OK other than scratches.
“That’s just BMX, isn’t it?’’ Sakakibara said. “That’s the sport I’ve chosen unfortunately.’’
At Ariake Urban Sports Park, where the competition was held, former Australian racer Sam Willoughby could be seen in a wheelchair.
Willoughby, who won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics, suffered a spinal-cord injury in 2016. He now coaches his wife, American Alise Willoughby, who got tangled up with Sakakibara in the crash during the semifinal heat.
Ramirez Yepes, the Colombia racer next to Fields when he crashed, said, “We know the risk.’’
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Connor Fields, Team USA BMX medal contender, crashes at Tokyo Olympics