Australian cyclist Kai Sakakibara
Australian cyclist Kai Sakakibara Image Credit: Kai Sakakibara Twitter

Canberra: Australian cyclist Kai Sakakibara, an Olympic BMX hopeful, is in a medically induced coma after picking up a “severe head injury” at a World Cup event.

The 23-year-old fell during his opening round heat in Bathurst, New South Wales, on Saturday.

He was sedated at the scene before being airlifted to Canberra Hospital, where he has had surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.

“We understand the road ahead will be a long and difficult one, we are staying positive and taking things day by day,” his family said.

“There isn’t much we can do at this point but Kai needs your support and your positive energy sent his way. Please keep thinking of Kai and stay with us on his journey for the months ahead.

“For now, we are waiting to see how things progress and our focus is on his long-term rehabilitation. Kai’s BMX career will be put on hold for now.”

Sakakibara finished ninth at last year’s World Championships and is currently ranked 10th.