Heartbreak for Reade and Phillips in Olympic BMX finals

Heartbreak for Reade and Phillips in Olympic BMX finals


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It was heartbreak for Great Britain’s Shanaze Reade and Liam Phillips in the Olympic BMX finals, who, after progressing to the finals with strong semi final performances, were denied a medal opportunity. Reade couldn’t recover from a bad start in the final, won by Mariana Pajon of Colombia, finishing in sixth position while Phillips started brilliantly but unclipped and eventually fell in a dramatic men’s medal final which saw back to back Olympic titles for Latvia’s Maris Strombergs.

The final day of BMX competition began with the semis – both following a three-run format; the top four riders from each semi-final advancing to the final, when the medals were decided over one run.

In her first run, Shanaze Reade slotted into second place behind Caroline Buchanan of Australia taking no chances to score some solid points – the danger clearly evident from the start as Stefany Hernandez of Venezuela became the first crash victim of the day. Reade’s form continued in the second run with a superb start, out front and in control by the time she hit the first berm, cruising to first place with Caroline Buchanan taking second place in the final straight to match Reade’s total points score going into the final run, in a heat which saw crashes for USA’s Alise Post and France’s Laetitia le Corguille.

Although Reade had already qualified on points, it was important to deliver a strong safe run to progress and claim a good grid position in the final. Reade and Buchanan started well, with the Great Britain rider slotting in behind Buchanan, resisting the temptation to pressurise the Australian for the lead, while holding off Brooke Crain in the final straight, while behind the luckless Post of USA suffered yet another heavy crash.

Over in heat two Mariana Pajon of Colombia took the win in run one, tailed in by Magalie Pottier of France who appeared to be running with a similar tactic to Reade’s first run. The second heat also claimed a crash victim; Brazilian Squel Stain crashing heavily on the opening straight and stretchered off.

Pajon was once again on fire in the second run, coming on strong after overtaking a fast starting Walker of New Zealand, with Pottier also easing past to chase down the Colombian in the final straight. Pajon made it three out of three in the final run, trailed, as she was in the preceding runs, by Pottier with New Zealand’s Walker pressuring the Frenchwoman for second heading for the line.

So joining Shanaze Reade in the final was Caroline Buchanan, Brooke Crain, Laetitia le Corguille, Mariana Pajon, Laura Smulders of the Netherlands and Sarah Walker of New Zealand.

Come the final and Shanaze Reade had gate one and the best possible chance into the first corner. But from the gate, Reade was behind and back in fourth by the first turn, under pressure from Buchanan who’d also started slowly. Out front, Pajon of Colombia had got an incredible start and was out in the lead, chased hard by Sarah Walker and Laura Smulders.

Reade had lost a huge amount of distance and into the second half of the race desperately tried to get back on terms but couldn’t generate speed over the final rhythm sections, crossing the line sixth and bitterly disappointed, while ahead, Pajon, who’d been peerless throughout the day's runs, celebrated wildly with her coach, Walker putting it together when it mattered to take silver, with Smulders grabbing bronze.

Great Britain’s Liam Phillips was strong throughout the semis with a clean first run, placing second behind Dutchman Raymon van der Beizen and avoiding carnage behind as Quentin Caleyron of France and USA’s Connor Fields collided behind, Fields managing to quickly remount and finish fourth.

Third place for Phillips behind van der Biezen and Fields in run two brought the Great Britain rider level on points with Connor Fields, in third place overall with one semi final run remaining. The final run saw Phillips battling Fields for the holeshot into turn one, slotting in behind the American and then coming under pressure from van der Biezen, swapping positions throughout the race. Third place looked assured for the Briton until he was pipped on the line by Colombia’s Jiminez. Fourth however was good enough for Liam to qualify for the medal final.

Over in the other heats, run one saw more drama as Daudet of France and van Gendt of the Netherlands collided on first corner, while out front Sam Willoughby took the win, with New Zealand’s Willers crashing on the penultimate straight fighting for position with Oquendo of Colombia, who finished second.

Willoughby followed it up in heat two to stay top of the pile after winning a race-long tussle with Twan van Gendt, with Oquendo and Daudet of France snapping at the Dutchman’s heels on the final straight in a desperate battle for placings. After a poor start Willoughby battled back to third place in the final run, with Dutchman van Gendt taking the win from Maris Strombergs, with Frenchman Daudet hitting the deck for the second time.

When the dust settled and the points were totalled up, the medal final line-up was van der Beizen, Fields, Phillips, Jimenez, Willoughby, van Gendt, Oquendo and Strombergs, with the Great Britain rider in with a shout of the medal if the pieces fell the right way...

Come the final and Phillips had drawn gate six, sandwiched between Willoughby and Oquendo with Connor Fields in gate one next to Twan van Gendt. An explosive start for Phillips and Strombergs saw them out in front on the opening straight and slotting into third on turn one as Willoughby began to pile on the pressure, chasing down Strombergs who had clearly been saving it all for the final.

Then came the heartbreaking, critical moment; Phillips unclipped on the second straight and struggled to get back in, falling next Jiminez on the step up. Out ahead Strombergs was putting daylight between himself and Willoughby, the Latvian coming into the final straight, incredibly, to win his first race of the competition and in doing so grabbing gold like he had four years ago in Beijing. Behind, Willoughby raced to silver, with Oquendo coming out of nowhere to take bronze.


Medal Finals

Men's final

1 STROMBERGS Maris 37.576
2 WILLOUGHBY Sam 37.929
3 OQUENDO ZABALA Carlos Mario 38.251
4 van der BIEZEN Raymon 38.492
5 van GENDT Twan 44.744
6 JIMENEZ CAICEDO Andres Eduardo 53.377
7 FIELDS Connor 01:03.0
8 PHILLIPS Liam 02:11.9

Women's final

1 PAJON Mariana    37.706
2 WALKER Sarah    38.133
3 SMULDERS Laura    38.231
4 le CORGUILLE Laetitia    38.476
5 BUCHANAN Caroline    38.903
6 READE Shanaze    39.247
7 POTTIER Magalie    39.395
8 CRAIN Brooke    40.286

Semi Finals


Heat 1            
Rk Athlete       Total Points  
Points Run 1 Points Run 2 Points Run 3
1 BUCHANAN Caroline 1 2 1 4 Q
2 READE Shanaze 2 1 2 5 Q
3 CRAIN Brooke 5 4 5 14 Q
4 le CORGUILLE Laetitia 4 8 3 15 Q
5 HERNANDEZ Stefany 8 3 4 15  
6 POST Alise 3 7 8 18  
7 ALEKSEJEVA Sandra 7 6 6 19  
8 REYNOLDS Lauren 6 5 8 19  
Heat 2            
Rk Athlete       Total Points  
Points Run 1 Points Run 2 Points Run 3
1 PAJON Mariana 1 1 1 3 Q
2 POTTIER Magalie 2 2 2 6 Q
3 SMULDERS Laura 4 3 4 11 Q
4 WALKER Sarah 5 4 3 12 Q
5 HLADIKOVA Aneta 3 6 7 16  
6 LABOUNKOVA Romana 6 5 6 17  
7 RIMSAITE Vilma 7 7 5 19  
8 STEIN Squel 8 10 10 28  


Heat 1            
Rank   Points Run 1 Points Run 2 Points Run 3 Total  
1 FIELDS Connor 4 1 1 6 Q
2 van der BIEZEN Raymon 1 2 5 8 Q
3 PHILLIPS Liam 2 3 4 9 Q
4 JIMENEZ CAICEDO Andres Eduardo 3 6 3 12 Q
5 TREIMANIS Edzus 5 7 2 14  
6 CALEYRON Quentin 8 4 6 18  
7 VEIDE Rihards 6 5 7 18  
8 YOUNG Khalen 7 8 10 25  
Heat 2            
Rank Athlete       Total Points  
Points Run 1 Points Run 2 Points Run 3
1 WILLOUGHBY Sam 1 1 3 5 Q
2 van GENDT Twan 5 2 1 8 Q
3 STROMBERGS Maris 4 4 2 10 Q
4 OQUENDO ZABALA Carlos Mario 2 5 4 11 Q
5 HERMAN David 3 6 6 15  
6 DAUDET Joris 6 3 7 16  
7 RINDERKNECHT Roger 7 7 5 19  
8 WILLERS Marc 8 8 10 26