Back injury halts Henderson’s run
Published 21 August 2016 (AEDT)
MOUNTAIN BIKE: A back injury has sadly ended Rebecca Henderson Olympic campaign, with the Canberran forced out of the women’s cross country final after just four laps.
"I was in agony all day," said Henderson. "I have been managing my back all year, it had been pretty good all week and then, when the pressure was on, it sort of gave in."
Henderson was one of 30 riders who set out for six laps of the 4.85km loop course which featured a mix of climbing, steep descents and hazards.
And with the forecasted hot weather replaced with cloud and a cool breeze, the pace was on from the gate.
World number 11, Henderson completed the first start loop inside the top 20 riders and looked poised to make a good run at the tricky course.
However with the leaders setting a punishing pace, Henderson's nagging back was too much as she negotiated every rock garden, and as she completed the harrowing descent she trailed the leaders by over six minutes at the halfway mark.
Unfortunately for Henderson, the pain was too much and with the gap to the leader’s increasing at every time check, she was removed from the race under the 80 per cent rule near the end of the fourth lap. (The 80 per cent rule requires every rider’s time to be more than 80% of the leader’s first lap time.)
"It is something I can manage, but I am away from home six months a year so don’t always have the consistent support and physio that I need," said Henderson.
"It is one of those things that as soon it flares it, just gets worse and worse.
"When it flares up, you can’t get any power through to your legs, you can’t even push a high heart rate.
"(On this course) There is no recovery, so you’re pushing on the climbs and your upper body is working so hard on the descents, there is no recovery from it."
It is a disappointing result for the dual Olympian who finished 24th in London four years ago. Henderson’s mother was trackside today in Rio, as was her fiancé Dan McConnell who will contest the men’s cross country race tomorrow.
"It is not a race you want to be getting pulled at 80%, so many people who helped me get here, and you want to do it for them as much as yourself.
"It is pretty tough to let so many people down."
Sweden’s Jenny Rissveds took gold ahead of Poland’s Maja Wloszczowska and Canada’s Catherine Pendrel.