Games of the 30th Olympiad, London 2012
BMX Day 2 - Columbian, Pajon wins Gold
London 2012, BMX Track
Mariana Pajon (Columbia) was quickest in the semi-final rounds and proved she was quickest out of the starting blocks for the final, leading from the front and crossing the line ahead of New Zealander Sarah Walker. Walker had qualified 4th fastest and got off to a great start. She found a gap in front of Caroline Buchanan (AUS) and home favourite Shanaze Reade on the first bend and battled her way past Beijing silver medalist Laetitia le Corguille (FRA) and Laura Smulders (NED) to secure the silver medal. Smulders held on for bronze.
The semi-finals were raced over three races with the top four riders progressed to the final.
In the first group, Shanze Reade (GBR), the two Australians (Buchanan and Reynolds) were up against two Americans (Crain and Post), Stefany Hernandez (VEN), Sandra Aleksejeva (LAT) and the silver medalist from Beijing Laetitia Le Corguille (FRA). Buchanan blasted out of the gate and was in the lead at the first turn. Hernandez crashed but managed to eventually get back on her bike. Buchanan was under the tunnel first. Reade was on her wheel and the pair led to the line. Post was third ahead of Le Corgruille.
In their second run, Reade got the better of Buchanan with Hernandez, who had apparently left on tooth on the floor after the first crash, finishing in third ahead of Brooke Crain (USA). This time is was le Corgruille crashed on the run to the finish.
The third run was fast. Buchanan again got a fast start and her and Reade led the group into the tunnel. Vilma Rimsaite (LTU) crashed on the first turn and Le Corguille made up for the crash in round one and jumped on the wheel of Reade to avoid Rimsaite. Buchanan crossed the line first ahead of Reade. Alise Post (USA) and Le Corguille battled at the turn for in the final 100m. Post hit the jump badly and crashed while le Corguille held on for third ahead of Hernandez which secured her place in the final.
In the second group, Pajon never looked troubled down the start ramp. Brazillian Squel Stein crashed and had to be stretchered off. The Lithuanian Vilma Rimsaite got distrupted by the crash and had to chase back but it was all too late. Pajon was first into the bend and never looked troubled while the rest had to fight for the minor placings. Magalie Pottier (FRA) the current World Cross champion crossed second ahead of Aneta Hladikova (CZE) and Laura Smulders (NED).
Pajon led from the start in the second run. Pottier and Laura Smulders (NED) battled for second and third going to the final turn. Pottier got the better of Smulders. Sarah Walker (NZL) went one place better and secured 4th.
in the final run, Pajon again led from the front. Pottier, Smulders and Walker battled for second and third going to the final turn. Pottier got the better of Smulders. Sarah Walker (NZL)
Mariana PAJON (COL) was elated after the final of the women's BMX after winning the gold medal: "I can't believe it. It's like a dream come true. My whole life I am trying to win this. I want to win it again. I want go out the gate and win it again. It's unbelievable."
On her performance in the whole event: "After the time trials I felt I was going really fast - my gate (placing at the start of the race) was awesome. I have tried so hard for it and I just did it. I won the three motos and the final. I felt really strong, I had really good gates and that's it. I really had fun on it. I can't believe it. It's like a dream. I have to wake up tomorrow and realise what I have just won."
On winning the second ever gold medal for Colombia at the Olympic Games: "I'm very happy and proud. I won't believe it until I wake up with my gold medal after going to sleep with it. This is a very strong moment for Colombia cycling, there's been a lot of support in recent years and that's beginning to give results."
On her thoughts when Colombia won its first Olympic gold medal 12 years ago (weightlifter Maria Isabela Urrutia in Sydney 2000): "Yes, it was a great moment for Colombia. Back then I was a gymnast and didn't do BMX. I thought I would come to the Olympics as a gymnast. I saw those moments and they fill me with pride and I wanted to come to the Olympics."
On believing that she could win the final after finishing first in all three semi-final runs: "I believed that I would win three years ago when I wanted to be here. I had a good gate in the semi-finals and the final. I wanted to be here and I did it. I can't believe I did it."
On when she started doing BMX: "I started gymnastics when I was five, but I started BMX when I was three. I was doing gymnastics, BMX and cart racing. However BMX wasn't at the Olympics and I wanted to be here, then BMX was introduced in Beijing and I started training. I started racing when I was three and I realised I could do this and do it well. I started winning at four with the boys and won my first world title at eight."
On being a 'beast' on the track and a sweet girl in everyday life: "Off the track I'm all woman, but on the track I change completely and I become aggressive and I race like a man. Then at the end of the race I become a girl again and of course I cried. I didn't believe it. I cried lot of tears. This a dream come true."
Sarah WALKER (NZL) after her silver medal win, "It feels especially sweet today. I just had a few moments this morning to let it sink in how big today would be. It was pretty scary. I was scared, nervous and excited at the same time. It was a big day and I feel I handled it really well, maybe not the first race, but from then on I raced really smart. I did what I needed to to make that final and fix a few things along the way and here I am standing with the silver medal around my neck."
On winning a silver medal: ďItís been a lot of hard work to get to this point, especially after dislocating my shoulder three months ago. I thought it might be over at that point, and any crash between three months ago and today could have put me out. I was scared every time I rode my bike.Ē
On the race: ďIím really proud of today. I thought going into this race that I could win it. But today when I woke up I had a lot of doubts in my mind. I was really focused. I was ready to go down in a pile on the first corner if thatís what it needed. I didnít want to get to the finish line having backed off. I was ready to put my body on the line Ė and thatís what it took.Ē
On whether she won the silver medal or lost the gold: "Today the silver was won. Going into this week I felt like the gold was mine to lose but today I did 100% of what I was capable of and I won the silver, definitely."
On why she rides BMX: "To me it's exciting, it's scary, it's fun, there are so many chances to crash, the adrenaline rush, the challenge of staying on your bike and getting to that finish line, I love it."
On the semi-final: "The first race Mariana (Pajon, COL) got a really good start and I kind of got stuck on the inside of her. So I just did what I needed to to get to the finish line without crashing because there are three races and anything can happen. But I managed to get enough points through to the final and build upon that performance."
On the final: "I was a little bit delayed on the start but I pushed real hard and I was actually winning down the first straight which is absolutely insane. I just saw Mariana to the left of me and just me and that was it, we were just side by side going into the first corner. I just stuck outside her and did what I could. She rode incredibly today and I was just happy to be in behind her down that last straight. I did what I needed to."
On injuries suffered by her and Pajon this season: "We both dislocated shoulders two weeks apart, her's two weeks before mine, both in racing. The world champs were pretty much our only other race this year and for the both of us it hasn't been a wonderful season, but it almost was a drive to train as hard as we could for this race."
On being the fifth medal winner for New Zealand at the London 2012 Olympic Games: "It's a special moment for me and a special moment for BMX in New Zealand. We'll have the world championships next year in Auckland, so this will be a huge boost with them coming to my country for the first time in the history of BMX. I saw a few of the (New Zealand) gold medallists here watching today and supporting, so it was a bit of an inspiration for me."
On how the London Olympics are different from Beijing: "I finished fourth in Beijing and the all day it was a bit surreal for me. It was like a dream. It didn't feel like the Olympics to me four years ago. This morning I woke up and I said: 'These are the Olympics. This is it. This is the big day'. It was scary to think that all the training over four years was coming down to this day. This morning I broke down and cried just because I realised that I could fail. But today I could also succeed and I did it."
On gold medal winner Mariana Pajon (COL): "She's always been an amazing rider. She looked amazing today. Last night I had this dream, that Mariana won and I was second. I was like: 'Damn it, she keeps beating me', and I couldn't get this image out of me. It was really frustrating."
Laura SMULDERS (NED) after winning bronze in the women's, "It's incredible, I've got no words to describe this."
On her race: "I had a super bad start every time in the semi-finals and I decided that I wanted to start from (position) eight, there I have all the space in the world, and I had a good start and I pulled everyone. I left the first corner as number four I believe, and went faster in the second part, overtook the French girl (Laetitia le Corguille, FRA) and rode so fast into the other two that I had to pass on the inside, so I jumped a bit too low out of the tunnel, but I thought 'go on'."
On riding to the finish with Sarah Walker (NZL), with whom she trained preparing for the Games: "I trained a week with her in the Netherlands and learned a lot from her. She takes silver, and I take bronze, it couldn't have been any better."
On the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro: "I was actually aiming for Rio (de Janeiro) but now I already have bronze. Well, let's go for gold then (in Rio de Janeiro)."
On starting out in BMX: "I started with my brother in 2000. We started at a local club, we thought it was cool, we tried it and loved it ever since. It's spectacular with all the jumps and the speed. It just gives a good feeling on the track with all the girls."
On BMX's second time as an Olympic sport: "The Olympics are the highest (level) in sports, so it's really good for BMX to be in the Olympics. You can see the difference from Beijing, where the track was a lot smaller. Here we had bigger jumps, everyone is faster. It's bigger now than it was in 2008. More people watch BMX, more people start BMX."
On the format of the competition, with only one run in the final: "We are used to one run both in the final and in the semifinal. Here we had three chances to get to the final so it's already more consistent. Just one final is better because it's BMX and everything can happen."
Laetitia le CORGUILLE (FRA) Beijing 2008 silver medallist after missing out on the podium with fourth place, "I was feeling confident that I could have won. I made it into the final without too much difficulty, but I was out of position after the first corner. I lost the line and then the chances for gold disappeared. I felt good. I was really in good condition for the race. To not reach the podium is a big disappointment. Boof - that's racing."
Caroline BUCHANAN (AUS) was devastated at finishing 5th in her first Olympics. On how she rode in the final and not getting a medal: "I was riding great all day, best I've ever rode in my life. I felt ready. I knew I had everything in my favour but I missed the gate and on an Olympic stage once I got back on field I couldn't get back in the front. At the end of the day I wanted gold."
On when she realised that she wasn't going to win: "I ride every race as hard as I can and I didn't realise what position I was in, but that's my dream over."
On the future: "I'm gonna hold my head high. This isn't what I had planned at all. I wanted a gold medal. I have all my family over here but I guess I'll get on that plane home soon and I'll start preparing for four years time in Rio. I'm still ranked number one in the world cup."
On her feelings at the moment: "It feels like a nightmare. My house has burnt down and my brother's broken his neck - I've had setbacks in my life before, but nothing compared to this."
On whether the pressure was too great for her: "I love pressure. They say diamonds are made under pressure, but it's just one of those things. I'm a first-time Olympian but my gate (start) has always been my weakness."
Shanaze READE (GBR) had huge expectation for her home olympics, after finishing sixth Reade relfected on her ride and sixth place: "The race schedule has been pretty hard, with the back-to-back laps. It's been hard to recover. I just tried to stay focused and do my absolute best, but today it just wasn't good enough."
"At the moment I'm pretty emotionless. I do not have any emotion in me yet, but I am sure it will sink in. The Games is the biggest platform you can race at and you've just got to give it your best."
On the gold-medal ride by Mariana Pajon (COL): "I don't know how she's gone today, but she's obviously a fantastic athlete. I felt like I was fast enough and I had done all the work that I needed to. Unfortunately, I just didn't have the start I wanted or needed to win the race. That was it."
Magalie POTTIER (FRA) after riding to seventh was a little disappointed with her performance, "My start was not so bad, but unfortunately I was stuck in a bad position coming out of the first corner. I pushed hard to move up, but it was not possible. I cannot be satisfied because the expectations were to earn a medal in the Olympic Games. There were too many things happening in the final and I did not ride the way I expected to. Of course, it is a disappointment."
Brooke Crain (USA) replaced Arielle Martin after Martin crashed one week before the Olympics and wore Arielle's initials on the palm of her gloves ."It was a great experience just to be here in that final. I had crashed on Wednesday and had to fight today. I am going to keep racing and looking to 2016. This track was amazing and I wish Arielle could have been here to race it," said Crain.
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