BMX: Shattered Shanaze Reade sees high hopes destroyed

Poor start costs British favourite in BMX race that offers no second chances

Unlike four years ago there was no physical pain for Shanaze Reade as she saw her second chance of an Olympic medal disappear but this one may hurt even more. Three commanding and controlled runs had delivered her into the final looking every inch the golden prospect long ago predicted by Chris Hoy. Instead, she was never in contention; a poor start proved decisive – this is a sport of no second chances – and that sentenced her to sixth place.

Reade's strength is her power, the speed with which she descends the eight-metre ramp from the starting gate is where she wins races. Hit the first bank at the front of the field and the race is yours to lose, arrive there as part of the pack and there is only the desperate hope that a crash will decimate the field.

"I felt like I was fast enough and I had done all the work that I needed to," said Reade afterwards. "Unfortunately, I just didn't have the start I wanted or needed to win the race. That was it."

Having qualified second for the final, it fell to Reade to have second pick of the starting gates. She chose No 2 – instructively Caroline Buchanan, the Australian who qualified fastest, went for No 1. They were both gambling, which is a fundamental part of BMX's make-up, on getting to the bottom of that ramp first and then from there having the impetus to fly to the first bend. They gambled and lost. Buchanan came in fifth, one ahead of the Briton and both some way behind the medal contenders.

Gold went to the Colombian Mariana Pajon, who had spent all of May out of action due to injury, an occupational hazard. Sarah Walker of New Zealand took silver and the Netherlands' Laura Smulders, the youngest rider in the race at 19, bronze.

"At the moment, I'm pretty emotionless," said Reade. "I do not have any emotion in me yet, but I am sure it will sink in. The Games is the biggest platform you can race at and you've just got to give it your best. The race schedule has been pretty hard, with the back-to-back laps. It's been hard to recover. I just tried to stay focused and do my absolute best, but today it just wasn't good enough."

Reade crossed the finish line one and a half seconds after Pajon, took off her helmet and slumped over her handlebars. In Beijing she never made it to the finish line, instead in a moment of true sporting death or glory the then teenager sought to revive her fading chances with a spectacular attempt to overtake the leaders. There was no glory only a damaged shoulder, a sprained wrist, a displaced pelvis and no medal either.

Ahead of the 2008 Games, Hoy had promoted her as British cycling's best hope of a medal. BMX comes under the direction of the medal hungry British Cycling set-up in Manchester, if not quite under the same roof, which is how they like it. The BMX track is next door to the velodrome and its accompanying facilities are available for their use. To stretch the analogy beyond any BMXer's comprehension, it is like Tom and Barbara popping round to Jerry and Margot's for a cup of sugar.

What appeals to Reade about her sport is its lack of structure – it's her good life. She did move inside for a time, winning two world titles with Victoria Pendleton while still a teenager. She may return to the track in due course, but it would be a wrench.

It is a markedly different skill. What appeals to Dave Brailsford about BMX riders is their explosive power – if they transfer, it is usually as the lead rider in the sprint, to provide the early impetus. But on the track it requires constant and smooth repetition; the BMX rider does not pedal continuously, instead they use savage bursts to gain the momentum to carry them over the jumps.

There is also the question of nerve. One mistake and that is it, as was painfully reaffirmed to Reade and everyone watching yesterday as the Brazilian Squel Stein was carried off on a stretcher after crashing less than 10 seconds into the first semi-final.

Reade had described Beijing as the worst moment of her life (with the accompanying asterix that she knows that does not count for much in the wider scheme of things).

London became her driving force and that she was in a good place when it arrived was apparent from the first semi-final. The riders race three times with the first four in each advancing to the final. Reade, and Buchanan, qualified with a race to spare. Reade finished second in the first and won the second, before adding another second place in the final race. In the one she won, the 23-year-old did so from an inside lane. Buchanan too was swayed by her semi-final runs and they both looked inside for the final.

Over her bruising years in the sport, Reade has fractured a knee, an elbow, a foot, ribs, her coccyx and a hand, as well as that Olympic damage in , but the final cut of yesterday afternoon, seeing the leaders dart out of her reach around that first bend that curves in the shadow of the next-door velodrome, scene of so much British success, may well prove to have the deepest impact of all.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower