BMX 'Queen of the Dirt' eyes Rio redemption

Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:31am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A frantic 40-second ride on a bumpy, dirt track decided the gold medal in the BMX final at the London Olympics but left Australia's Caroline Buchanan with four years to stew over a chance gone begging.

The Canberra native entered the final at the Velopark after setting the fastest time in the seeding runs but a poor start out of the gate saw her finish fifth and the title go to Colombia's Mariana Pajon.

It was a crushing blow for a 21-year-old widely tipped to win a medal after dominating on tracks around the world.

Buchanan has had more than enough time to analyze her disappointment, while building the title-winning confidence she believes will bring her best rides at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

"I just put London down to being my first Olympics," the 25-year-old told Reuters in an interview.

"It's not every day you stand in front of thousands of people like that, wearing the green and gold of Australia. You feel the support of the country but it can also very easily feel like the pressure of the nation.

"Physically, I was more than ready but mentally I probably wasn't. The Olympics is a whole other ball-game. It's such a different level to any other events. Everyone just really rises up another level."

Buchanan dug herself out of her post-London funk by bagging world titles in BMX and mountain biking, earning herself the nickname 'Queen of the Dirt" and winning Australia's Sir Hubert Opperman Medal as the country's most successful cyclist in 2013.   Continued...

Australia's Caroline Buchanan celebrates her victory after the women's four cross at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Mount Ste-Anne, Beaupre, September 3, 2010. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger