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Reade suffers Olympic setback for second Games running
SHANAZE Reade suffered Olympic heartbreak for the second Games running as she failed to claim a medal in yesterday's BMX final.
Four years ago in Beijing, a hotly-tipped Reade was in a medal position when she crashed out on the final bend of the decisive race.
She arrived at London as one of the favourites for a top-three spot again, but while she managed to remain upright in yesterday's final, she could only finish sixth as Mariana Pajon became only the second Colombian ever to win an Olympic gold medal.
Reade had cruised through the semi-finals, but she began slowly in the final and never recovered her position after slipping out of the top five at the opening bend.
The 23-year-old has tried unsuccessfully to force her way on to British cycling's track team in the past, and must now decide whether to move indoors again or remain with the less high-profile BMX squad for another four-year cycle.
“I tried to hang back a little bit so I didn't hit the start gate, but everybody started closing in and by the time things settled down, I couldn't really come back,” said Reade, whose uncharacteristic hesitancy was perhaps a throwback to what had happened in Beijing. “In the Olympics, you can't hold back and maybe I tried to hold back that split second too long.
“The race was never over until the finish line, but when it's an open track like this, it's hard to come back when you go behind. I did my best, but it just wasn't good enough.
“It's the Olympic Games, so if it doesn't go right, you're obviously going to be feeling upset and sad. But at the same time, I've just got to pick myself up and try to move forward.”
There was also British disappointment in the men's final as Liam Phillips hit the tarmac at the halfway stage.
Crashes are an occupational hazard in BMX racing – the first five of yesterday's semi-final runs all saw at least one rider come out of the saddle – but while the thrills and spills certainly entertained a capacity crowd that included Prime Minister David Cameron, chancellor George Osbourne and former England football captain David Beckham, British riders have now been on the receiving end for two Olympics in a row.
Phillips, who only recovered from a broken collarbone a month before the Games, was briefly in third position in the final, but a clipped wheel cost him momentum and one of his feet had left the pedals by the time he was bumped again and hit the floor.
“It all happened way before the crash to be honest,” said the 23-year-old, who was forced to watch Latvian Maris Strombergs retain his Olympic title. “I wasn't sure which way Sam (Willoughby) was going to jump. You get a split second to make a decision, and unfortunately I chose wrong.
“He moved to the inside and clipped my front wheel. I had to take my foot out to stay upright, so to go through that whole switchback section with only one foot clipped in was not ideal. I couldn't jump the next big step up, and someone riding behind me just caught me on the landing. That was that.
“I can't be too disappointed. It's a BMX race, and any of the eight guys on that gate could have gone on to win. I'm pleased with the way I rode and I certainly put everything in. I went out there to win it, but unfortunately got beat to the first turn and then got caught up in a bit of carnage.
“I'm not going to lose too much sleep about it because I'm pleased with my performances and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the experience.”