Australian star racer Saya Sakakibara was stretchered off the track after a horror crash in the semi-finals of the BMX Racing.
Sakakibara was hit from behind in the third run of the second semi-final and was unable to get back to her feet.
Her crash came just minutes after American champion Connor Fields was also taken to hospital after an ugly crash.
Channel 7 commentators described the scenes at the BMX as “carnage” and said the injury to Sakakibara was “tragic” — particularly since her brother suffered a horror injury in the sport last year.
Sakakibara was eventually escorted from the track on a stretcher in terrifying scenes.
Speaking after the race, Sakakibara said she was “confused”
“I’m definitely confused … I honestly I don’t really know what happened, but I know that I was riding really well,” she said.
“My stats were going really well. I came down with Alise [Willoughby] who caught up with me, we came down together. That’s all I remember.
“Yeah, this is so disappointing. I feel like I have let everyone down, especially my brother.”
There was more reason for Australians watching on to feel for the Sakakibara family as everyone waited and hoped for some good news.
Her brother Kai, who turned 25 on Thursday, should have been in Tokyo too. A BMX superstar himself, he was expected to shoot for a medal.
But at the beginning of last year, he suffered a horrific accident that caused severe injuries. He was in a coma for two months and for a period, doctors weren’t sure whether he was going to live.
Thankfully, he was a fighter. An eight-month stay in hospital saw him start to learn to walk and talk again, and he was watching on at home as his little sister qualified for Friday’s semi-finals.
“I’m here for the both of us,” Saya said on Thursday. “I’m living the Olympic dream at the moment and he’s on that journey with me all the way.
“With all the pressures that comes with the Olympics, I really wanted to show my best performance for him for his birthday as well. I think I was able to do that.”
Earlier, Fields was taken to hospital after being carried off the track during the men’s BMX Racing semi-finals.
Fields was seen being loaded into the back of an ambulance near the track.
Fields was unable to finish the third heat when he went down hard in a sickening face first crash near the start of the first turn of the circuit.
Fields was the defending Olympic champion.