British mountain biker Liam Killeen could be forgiven for thinking he had been the victim of a time-travel experiment yesterday here after he crashed early on then clawed his way past 41 of 50 starters for a top-10 finish.
Four years ago at Athens, Killeen hit the deck in the opening lap and spent the rest of the race playing catch-up, finishing fifth. Yesterday, barely 300 metres had gone when the Londoner touched wheels with another rider, crashed in a gully and spun over the bars.
"I bashed my knee but the worst thing was my handlebars were twisted, I had to make a pit stop so the mechanic could work on my bike," Killeen said. "Mentally it was a bit frustrating, because the ride I did could have got me on to the podium."
The 26-year-old moved from 48th and last after the opening lap to 21st place halfway through the race. His initial bad luck meant he was never gunning for victory. Four-times world champion Frenchman Julien Absalon's lone attack gave him gold.
But after passing GB team-mate Oliver Beckingsale (who finished 12th) on the penultimate lap, Killeen finished seventh. His result will not get him into the Olympic history books but it was an outstanding ride.