BMX: Pajon, Walker and Smulders Sweep Women's Race in London, Willoughby and Oquendo Grace Men’s Podium
Colombia’s BMX team has officially hit the map.
Lead by Mariana Pajon, who claimed her nation’s very first victory in London by owning the Women’s race, the South American country continued its damage with countryman Carlos Oquemdo taking a third place finish in the Men’s event.
“I started gymnastics when I was five, but I started BMX when I was three,” said Mariana, who also became the second Colombian ever to claim a Summer Games win. "I was doing gymnastics, BMX and cart racing. However BMX wasn’t at the Games and I wanted to be here, then BMX was introduced in Beijing and I started training.”
Utterly smashing three semi-final runs in tantalizing style, she lead the pack of eight formidable riders through the first turn. She never relinquished the lead – cruising to a massive triumph over rivals from the across the Globe.
Two of those rivals were never far behind. Sarah Walker of New Zealand grabbed a second place result as Laura Smulders of the Netherlands rounded out the podium.
“The key was overcoming my fears,” added Sarah, who raced near flawlessly, but just couldn’t keep up with the blazing Pajon. “I never really believed in myself in Beijing.”
The Flying Willoughby
Carlos wasn’t the only man of note (in the family) to grace the Men’s podium, however.
Aussie smasher Sam Willoughby, who was crowned with a World Championship title this year, took second after being edged by Maris Strombergs in an intense 450 meter final.
‘’Me and Maris have sort of gone back and forward, one-two, all year…and I’m not the slightest bit disappointed," Sam said. “I’m very happy. Maris is a smart guy.”
Finishing in a blistering 37.929 seconds, he built upon some amazing semi-final races where he nabbed first, second and third place finishes to quality for the Final round. But although he fell a bit short of an overall triumph, there was no head hanging due to the fact that it was a hard fought race with an honorable podium result.
“We race each other every weekend and he was smart enough to move to the inside and I couldn’t quite get through there,” Sam added. “So once I saw him moving over I just knew I had to play it safe. I wasn’t going to try to smash into him in the last corner and cost myself a podium finish.”