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Pajon and Strombergs Take Gold in Olympic BMX

Everyone says how unpredictable BMX is and as a very amateur rider myself, I know what they mean, which only goes to make the achievement of Maris Strombergs of Latvia today so much more monumental. Strombergs managed to defend his 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medal at the final of the London 2012 BMX event, beating off challenges from the world’s best and brightest.

If performance in the semifinals was anything to go by then Mariana Pajon’s position as the top contender for gold amongst the women should never really have been in doubt. Three consecutive first place wins guaranteed her as an odds on favourite with the pundits. Her Heat included Magalie Pottier, the reigning World Champion, who was unable to oust the Colombian superwoman from the top spot on the podium, despite valiant attempts.
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It would be an outright lie to say that Mariana Pajon’s gold medal was always in the bag. Asides from the fact that victory in any BMX race always includes a large dose of luck, Pajon was facing some very stiff competition from the likes of Magalie Pottier, Caroline Buchanan and Shanaze Reade. However, in the end, none of these three hotly tipped riders made the Olympic podium, with the silver and bronze going to Sarah Walker of New Zealand and Laura Smudlers of the Netherlands respectively.
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Mariana Pajon will become national hero and icon in Colombia, having secured her country’s only London 2012 Olympic Gold medal.  Following her victory in London today, the 20-year-old rider is on her way to attaining international sporting supernova status. I can just imagine the scale and mind blowing awesomeness of the reception that will await her when she returns triumphantly to Bogota.
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Maris Strombergs’ victory at London 2012 had been less hotly tipped by the commentators, especially after his showing in the three semifinal runs. The 25-year-old rider, who now resides in the USA, got the third lowest number of points of the eight qualifiers for the final. Add to this a less than sparkling season so far and you’d have been forgiven for assuming that the Beijing Champions star was fading.
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For Strombergs to take victory, he was going to have to fight off some very strong competitors, including Sam Willoughby of Australia, Connor Fields of the USA and Raymon van der Biezen of the Netherlands. Willoughby seemed like a particularly strong contender for the Olympic throne, following his performance in the semifinal runs. He secured two first place finishes in his Heat, which included Strombergs. Nevertheless, Strombergs rediscovered his 2008 winning formula to beat back Willoughby’s challenge and snatch his second Olympic gold.
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Words By A.L.Cuin
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Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia / Flickr Creative Commons (Yonolotengo)

Tags: BMX, Colombia, Gold, Latvia, London 2012, Mariana Pajon, Maris Strombergs, Olympics

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