Mountain Biking: Annie Last can be first one day

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Briton finishes eighth on Olympic debut but future looks bright for 21-year-old and her sport

hadleigh farm

Annie Last did not finish first – or anywhere close to it – in the women's BMX event, the Olympics' penultimate bike race yesterday. Nonetheless, in a discipline in which Britain have not fielded a participant since 2000, Last's eighth place on the Hadleigh Farm circuit represents an important breakthrough: Britain's first top-10 finish in the event.

Early in the race, Last was involved in a break of four riders, alongside Julie Bresset of France, Georgia Gould of the US and defending Olympic champion Sylvia Spitz. The move went from the gun and although the lone Briton faded mid-race, with Bresset claiming the gold ahead of the vastly more experienced Spitz and Gould, Last's determination to take the event by the scruff of its neck made for a memorable Olympic debut.

"I wanted a clean start and a good run at it, and that went to plan," said Last, a keen horse-rider who only started bike racing aged 10 thanks to a bet with her brother.

The 21-year-old's performance was even more notable as it came on an exceptionally arduous 3.5-mile circuit. Perhaps appropriately given that the land is owned by the Salvation Army, the circuit's most difficult section – a stomach-churning jump on a narrow woodland circuit – is named The Leap of Faith.

Rather than divine inspiration, though, Last said she had been spurred on by the relentless series of triumphs for British cycling on the track and road throughout this Olympics, from Sir Chris Hoy clinching his sixth gold to Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins' time-trial victory.

"It's great being in such a successful team where we can claim so many medals," she said. And if British Cycling has yet to hit the heights in mountain biking, it is worth remembering that track racing was once barely a blip on the radar of GB sport. Last's eighth place could be the start of something much bigger in the years to come.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor