Great Britain’s Annie Last took the positives from her Olympic mountain bike debut and aims to build on what was a fantastic result for the 21-year-old.
British Cycling Academy Programme rider Last finished eighth in the women’s Olympic mountain bike cross-country race as France’s Julie Bresset claimed gold in front of a capacity crowd at Hadleigh Park.
Last, the first British female rider to qualify for the Games for 12 years, stormed out of the start grid and led for the first lap, before gradually falling back in sweltering temperatures in the 29.3km six-race lap race. In the end she came in two minutes and 55 seconds behind winner Bresset and was understandably pleased with her first Olympic outing.
“It’s amazing, this crowd - just unbelievable. To have that much support out there is incredible. It’s been an amazing experience.”
“I wanted to get a good start to make sure I got a clear run on the first lap. I didn’t smash myself then have to pay for it, what I wanted to do was get clear at the start and avoid any issues,” Last explained.
“Towards the end of the race I started to slip back a little bit. I came today and I wanted to get the best out of myself and that’s what I’ve done. I’m really, really happy.
“There’s so much to think about. You are thinking about where to put your wheels, getting your power out, you are thinking about stuff like that all the time so yes, you see the wheels in front of you and you’re trying to stay with them and things, it’s just about focusing on yourself and going as fast as possible.”
Germany Sabine Spitz and American Georgia Gould took silver and bronze respectively in a field where the majority of the favourites were older than Last, who went through an exhaustive programme to qualify for the Games. She is now hopeful she can continue her notable progression over the next Olympic cycle.
“Julie Bresset is an amazing rider but other than that a lot of the top riders are quite a bit older so for me I have done everything I can, I am in the best shape for this race. I’ve still got a long way to go and I’m looking forward to moving onwards and upwards in the next few years,” Last said.
A huge crowd in Essex cheered on an appreciative Last through each lap as she completed the race in 1:33:47. “It’s amazing, this crowd - just unbelievable. To have that much support out there is incredible. It’s been an amazing experience,” Last said.