British Olympic hopes Shanaze Reade and Liam Phillips both made it through to their respective BMX finals on Friday after sharp riding in the semi-finals, but could not fight their way through to a podium place in the finale.
Reade suffered from a slow start and was left to play catch-up all around the final run. In the end, she couldn’t bridge up to the leaders and Colombian Mariana Pajon took her country’s first gold of the Games. Sarah Walker (New Zealand) took silver, with Laura Smulders (Netherlands) in the bronze medal position.
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“I did everything I could. It’s fantastic everyone’s come out and supported me. I’m just gutted I didn’t get a medal,” Reade said.
“I felt like I was fast enough and I’d done all my work I needed to. Unfortunately I just didn’t get the start I wanted or needed to win the race and that was it. I backed back a little bit and by the time I did that, I was on the inside, so everybody was closing in and I couldn’t come back from that.”
“I can’t thank all these people enough for coming out and supporting me.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osbourne and David Beckham were among those who’d come to see Reade and Phillips’s medal challenge.
Phillips had a great start and briefly led the race into the first set of jumps. However, part-way around the course his pedal unclipped and he lost control of his bike, crashing out. He remounted to finish in last place.
“[Someone] clipped my front wheel. I made the decision to either risk it and keep both my feet in or take my foot out, stay upright there and hopefully get my foot back in,” he said. “you get a split second to make a decision unfortunately I made the wrong one.”
Phillips crashed and broke his collarbone in hte BMX world championships in Birmingham ten weeks ago. “I’m really pleased with the way I rode. I certainly put
my hat in the ring, went out there to win it, unfortunately I got beat to the
first turn and got caught up in a bit of carnage, but I’m not going to lose too
much sleep, I’m really pleased with the way I rode and I thoroughly enjoyed
“I loved racing yesterday, I couldn’t wait to get out here today, you’ve got 6,000 people who’ve paid to be here. Everyone’s cheering for me. For a sport I’ve been involved in since I was five years old, it’s mind blowing really. The crowd were phenomenal and I loved it.”
Defending Olympic champion Maris Strombergs (Latvia) again came up with the goods when it mattered, scopping the gold. Sam Willoughby (Australia) placed second, with Carlos Oquendo giving Colombia its second BMX medal of the day with bronze.
A few minutes after the medals had been won, Phillips picked himself up off the tarmac and rode in to the finish. “There’s no way I wasn’t going to finish that race. I wasn’t hurt so why not. I’m not a bad sport. You crash, but you get back up, you’ve got to finish the lap.”
Women’s final, with Shanaze Reade (12)
Liam Phillips (65)
Phillips makes his way to the finish after crashing in the final