Olympic BMX: GB's Reade and Phillips miss out, women's gold to Colombia's Pajon, men's to Latvia's Strombergs again
Bad start in final costs Reade dear, Phillips off to a flier but unclips and then crashes
Great Britain's Shanaze Reade, who crashed in the BMX final in Beijing four years ago, has missed out on an Olympic medal again as a bad start from the inside lane of the starting gate saw her always playing catch-up to her rivals, finishing sixth. Colombia's Mariana Pajon took the win, only the second summer Olympic gold medal in her country's history, with Sarah Walker of New Zealand claiming silver and Laura Smulders of the Netherlands securing bronze. In the men's event, a storming start from defending champion Maris Strombergs of Latvia saw him retain his title ahead of Australia's Sam Willoughby, with Carlos Oquendo winning bronze. British rider Liam Phillips got a great start but fell away after one of his feet unclipped and was caught up in a crash as he drifted back through the field.
Reade, like Phillips, had looked good in today's semi-finals in which she rode three heats in the hour and a half preceding the final, but afterwards she said that heavy programme was one of the reasons she didn't perform to her best when it came to the one race that determined the medals - although it should be pointed out, of course, that everyone else reached the final through a similar route.
“Today’s schedule has been pretty hard with the back to back laps and obviously with the short recoveries it’s been hard to get on top of that," she said. “I just tried to stay focused and do the best I could and today it just wasn’t good enough.”
Meanwhile Phillips, who broke his collarbone in the world championships in Birmingham in May but battled back to ensure he would be at the Olympics, was left to rue what might have been.
“I've defied all expectation to be here let alone be a contender, so I should be pleased with my performance even though I’m disappointed now,” he reflected. “It was the best start of my life, and that’s what you aim to do at the Olympics. But I overshot the second jump, and probably my first too - that’s how fast I came out of the gate.”
More to follow