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Defending BMX Olympic Gold Medalist Connor Fields Is Hospitalized After A Bad Crash

Connor Fields, the U.S. defending gold medalist in BMX racing, had a brutal crash in the semifinals of his event and left the venue on a stretcher in an ambulance.

"We can confirm that Connor Fields is awake, stable, and awaiting further medical evaluation. He will remain in the hospital under observation," said Dr. Jon Finnoff, the chief medical officer for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

The 28-year-old was in the third heat of the semifinal, where groups race over a bumpy course with jumps. He started with two excellent rides. Then, disaster struck.

Fields was in a tight pack of riders and came down wrong from a jump, crashing headfirst onto the ground. Paramedics strapped him to a stretcher as he appeared to be unconscious and carried him off the course.

Felicia Stancil, Fields' training partner who came in fourth in the women's race, saw him crash as she was also in the middle of competition.

"I'm thinking about him a lot right now. I'm still a bit emotional," Stancil said in a statement. "He's an Olympic champion forever. To be around him, and his support, all the time is amazing. His crash definitely affected me. I actually won the next lap after I cried. I was crying going up the start hill and then won the run. He's just an inspiration."

Even though Fields was unable to compete in the final, the scores he already racked up in the semi were enough to qualify. He ultimately placed eighth in the event.

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Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.