2020 Tokyo Olympics: BMX Racer Connor Fields in the ICU After Serious Crash, Suffers Brain Bleeding

by Suzanne Halliburton

Good news for defending gold-medalist Connor Fields, who crashed out of the Tokyo Olympics earlier this week while competing in BMX. The American is out of ICU.

But yes, his injury is serious. USA Cycling confirmed that Fields suffered a brain bleed.

USA Cycling released a statement from the Tokyo Olympics:

“After a night in the ICU, the doctors are pleased to report that there has been no additional bleeding, and no new injuries were found. Fields has been moved out of the critical care unit and will remain in the hospital until cleared.”

The statement added: “The staff has been in contact with his immediate family as they have navigated his care options after evaluation.”

Fields Suffered Scary Crash Thursday at Tokyo Olympics

On Thursday, Fields was competing in the semifinals, when he crashed with a group of five riders. Medics tended to him at the venue. But, they called an ambulance. While at the hospital, Fields underwent a series of brain scans. He’d been in ICU until now. In the initial medical update provided to NBC Sports, doctors described Fields as “awake and stable. … The crash was quite severe and he had 2 CAT scans, after the second of which everyone was optimistic.”

Doctors initially said he’d be in a Tokyo-area hospital for at least a week, meaning he’d be there throughout the rest of the Tokyo Olympics. It’s unclear whether doctors modified those plans.

Because of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, families of the athletes aren’t allowed in Tokyo. Fields’ father told USA Today that his son “cognitively, he’s doing well.”

Fields was in a group of five other riders when he crashed Thursday during the semifinals of the BMX event at Ariake Urban Sports Park. Cyclists were riding at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. After the crash, Fields didn’t move. He won the gold medal at the Rio Games in 2016. Fields was considered the top favorite for the Tokyo Olympics gold.

(Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Top American Woman, Medal Favorite, Also Crashed Twice

Eventual men’s silver medalist Kye Whyte acknowledged the danger. Cyclists need to absorb it: “If you have fear in the back of your head that you are going to crash, you better get out of the gate.”

The women’s BMX competition at the Tokyo Olympics didn’t feature severe crashes. But for the Americans, it wasn’t as successful as they wanted. Alise Willoughsby, the 2016 silver medalist and a favorite in Tokyo, crashed twice.

“Sports is not very fair,” Willoughby said, according to the Washington Post. “It’s harsh. Sports is sometimes harsh, and I put everything I had out there. I’m 150 percent proud of the effort put forth into this. I know in my heart where I was truly, and I’m just disappointed I didn’t really get to show what I was capable of today.”

With their top riders out of the Tokyo Olympic, no American medaled. The best finish was Felicia Stancil, who was fourth in the women’s final.