Shanaze Reade?s bid to take British Cycling?s 15th medal in Beijing collapsed in dramatic style when she crashed at the last corner of the final race.
Poised to pounce on key rival Anne-Caroline Chausson, Reade took the final corner too tight, clipped the Frenchwoman?s back wheel and went flying.
Chausson went on to win, whilst Reade - evidently in pain - picked herself up, and walked to the finish.
?I guess they say you learn the hard way, and today I learned the hard way.? Reade said later.
?All I can say to everybody is thanks for your support. I?ve put absolutely everything into this, everything from the age of ten.?
?But I?m an athlete, I?ll come back stronger in London, turn it round and show everybody I?m made of.?
Reade?s crash in the final was her third in the Olympic series - she?d also gone down in the seeding but eventually clocked the second fastest time behind Chausson - and second crash of the day.
In the first heat of the semifinals, the 19-year-old hit the deck on the first corner when leading - possibly hitting the corner too fast - and crossed the line in seventh spot limping, in pain but in a defiant mood.
?Gold medals don?t come easy.? she said afterwards and Reade then battled back with a vengeance to take second in the second semifinals. She then won the last round with the fastest time for the semis - and a huge grin on her face.
The final, though, was another story. Taking her usual lead before early on, Chausson came round the Briton on the first corner. Reade shadowed her all the way to the final bend, cutting from right to left just beforehand and attempting to overtake - but she then went wide and clipped the Frenchwomen?s back wheel. Game over.
?This time round there have been some real ups and downs.? Reade recognised afterwards. ?I crashed in the time trial, got back up, got second, then got first in the last semifinal".
?Really, though, I couldn?t have put any more into the racing than I have done this week. I?m cut up and hurt, it?s been a tough day.?
Reade's next stop was due to be the European U-23 track championships, but this may not now happen.
"I may have broken my hand." - unconfirmed reports say she has headed to hospital for an x-ray - "I've cut my shoulder open and I think I've hurt my sciatic nerve. Before thinking about the Europeans' I'll have to see what the extent of the damage is."
BMX women's final
1 Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA) 35.976
2 Laetitia le Corguille (FRA) 38.042
3 Jill Kintner (USA) 38.674
4 Sarah Walker (NZL) 38.805
5 Gabriela Diaz (ARG) 39.747
6 Nicole Callisto (AUS) 1min 19.609
7 Sammy Cools (CAN) DNF
8 Shanaze Reade (GB) REL
Reade is head-to-head with Chausson until the final berm...
... when disaster strikes the British rider
Photos by Phil O'Connor
|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: TRACK|
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Saturday's action as it happened: Two gold, a silver and two bronze for Britain
Blog: Life in Laoshan
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Brits blast to team sprint gold
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|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: NEWS|
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|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: ROAD|
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|OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: GUIDE|
Olympics cycling results>>
Cycling event schedule>>
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Every British cycling medal ever won at the Olympic Games
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Track results at the Worlds and Olympics 2004-2008
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