Aussies crash out in BMX finals

Published 20 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 18: Riders compete in the Cycling BMX - Men's Quarterfinals on Day 13 of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at Olympic BMX Centre on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

BMX: Finals day at the Olympic BMX Centre in Deodoro promised so much for the Australian Team but ended in bitter disappointment.

Caroline Buchanan and Lauren Reynolds didn’t progress to the medal race after crashes in their semi-final runs left them without the points required.

In the men’s semi-finals Sam Willoughby and Anthony Dean won all six races between them and seemed destined for success, and better luck, but it wasn’t to be in a sport were anything can happen. Willoughby finishing sixth and Dean was ranked eighth, after he failed to finish, as the impressive Connor Fields of the USA won gold.

"Obviously disappointed, I won every lap this weekend, but stumbled at the last hurdle," said Willoughby. "It was a mistake of my own, I dragged my wheel over the back of the first jump and lost my speed. And that was that.

"But I have been on the good end of this sport many times, it is just the way it goes.

"I have had days where I have been at the back all day, and you just get yourself up for the last lap, and you’re a hero. It goes both ways."

Willoughby and Dean were both beaten down the start ramp by the Americans who blasted out. Willoughby was in third going around the first burn and was in a reasonable position with Dean further back.  

Willoughby, the silver medallist from 2012, started looking for ways through the tight field but couldn’t find an opening. He was pushed back to fourth on the second last burn and again on the final corner and relegated to sixth.

Dean who was caught up near the tail of the eight-man final crashed on the second last burn. With the rest of the field across the line he was left shaking his head and walked to the finish but did not complete the course.

"We put ourselves in the best possible situation to go gold and silver, but I just missed the start a little bit which caused me to get cut off," said Dean. "I was just fighting in the back there which caused me to crash in the second corner.

"There are so many things you can say went wrong, I was riding good all day, maybe it was just the experience, I didn’t have it

"I was one of the fastest guys today as I proved but maybe the experience caused me to miss the start and I am sure it is going to live with me for four years.

"Sam and I were 1-2 all day, won all our heats, we had a flawless day. But I miss the start and he messed up a jump, and all of a sudden you’re last. It is very cut throat and unforgiving.

"But, we started out riding and racing together when we were eight year olds, so to be here in an Olympic final in lanes one and two, it is definitely an achievement."

Devastatingly the news was the same for the Australian women on finals days at Extreme Park.

Caroline Buchanan and Lauren Reynolds both missed the final after each crashing out in a run in the semi-finals.

Buchanan was looking for redemption in Rio after the former world champion was fifth in London. She was ranked second after the seeding run, and won run one of the semi and everything looked on track. Her fourth place in run two still had her in a qualifying position but a crash in run three left her with the maximum points and missing the final on a countback.

"I pedalled into the first transition and my legs buckled and my handle bars went forward and from there in that split second I knew it was a tough ask to try to finish the lap, I crashed in the first corner and I didn’t make that Olympic final," said Buchanan.

"But walking away, everyone knows this is a brutal sport, there are no white lines, there are no guarantees."But I can hold my head held high, I know I am a champion, I have done everything I can.

"I know I didn’t get on that podium, and get the medals that Australia wanted to see, but I am super proud. I am a fighter, I have come back after London, and I will come back again."

Reynolds, who was in the same races as Buchanan, started the semis well placing third in run one. On run two she was caught in a crash off the first jump and eventually crossed the line in seventh. For the final run she needed a top result and finished sixth.

"Very disappointed, I had my best prepration I ever had," said Reynolds. "But it is our sport, BMX is crazy, I think today has showed that.

"It is a real disappointment, but you can't dwell on it too much.

"I don't regret anything I did today, as if I had held up I would have been upset with myself."

A terrible end to the second Olympic campaigns for the Aussie women. Very few athletes have been able to get through the rounds avoiding a crash and for the Aussies it knocked them out of the medal race they were so determined to feature in.      

Colombian World Champion and crowd favourite Mariana Pajon who dominated the other semi-final won the gold. American Alise Post took silver and Stefany Hernandez from Venezuela the bronze.

In the men’s Fields was joined on the podium by Twan van Gendt who won silver with Colombia’s Carlos Ramirez Yepez winning bronze.

Andrew Reid/Amy McCann 

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