BMX Freestyle began to emerge in the early eighties when BMX racers started performing tricks with their bikes at competitions.
American athlete Bob Haro is considered the Godfather of BMX Freestyle: he took the new discipline under his wing, giving demonstrations across the USA at first and then worldwide. For the records, he was a stunt rider in the Steven Spielberg film E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.
Skateparks became the new terrain for BMX Freestyle riders, and tricks were invented by the day. After a few years of demos, the new BMX 'side-act' had caught on. Products were invented specifically for BMX Freestyle and the first contests were held. It didn't take long before riders from all over the world started 'trick riding' as it was called in the early years.
A new BMX culture followed, with riders taking BMX away from the tracks and onto the streets. Over the years, different forms of BMX Freestyle developed, each with its own specialities. It was up to the riders to choose their preferred terrain; halfpipe, dirt jumps, mini-ramp, skatepark, flatland, or using whatever was out there on the street. Being able to ride whatever whenever, without being told what to do, was a sign of freedom for this BMX Freestyle generation.
Soon enough big 'made for TV' events like the X-Games, Gravity Games and Dew Tour gave BMX Freestyle riders an opportunity to shine on TV and make a living out of riding a BMX bike. The level of riding soared, and riders started taking a more serious and focussed approach, choosing and concentrating on their best BMX Freestyle speciality. One of the main formats to emerge has been BMX Freestyle Park.
In 2016, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) joined forces with Hurricane Action Sports, organisers of the FISE World Series, the Festival International des Sports Extrêmes (International Festival of Extreme Sports) to organise the UCI BMX Freestyle Park World Cup. After a first successful season, with World Cup stopovers in France, Croatia, USA, Canada and China the International Olympic Committee (IOC) showed an interest in taking BMX Freestyle Park to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. In June 2017, the announcement was made to add BMX Park to the Olympic programme, making it the first Olympic BMX Freestyle discipline.
The upcoming 2017 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships in Chengdu, China, will see the first BMX Freestyle UCI World Champion pull on the rainbow jersey. Another milestone in the development of BMX Freestyle.