Colombia’s ‘Queen of BMX’ falls short of her three-peat
Mariana Pajón had to settle for the silver medal at Tokyo 2020 after being bested by Great Britain’s Bethany Shriever in the BMX final.
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All that separated Colombia’s Mariana Pajón from her third gold medal in three Olympics in Women’s BMX racing was one wheel.
The ‘Queen of BMX,’ as she became known after taking home her second gold at the 2016 Rio Games, settled for a silver medal, finishing behind Great Britain’s Bethany Shriever in the final race.
Shriever was the underdog going in, but raced to the front of the pack to start the race and never looked back. Pajón made a valiant effort at a comeback down the final straight, but it wasn’t enough.
“She was really fast, she did an amazing job,” Pajón told reporters of Shriever’s performance.
The Medellin native also said at the conclusion of the race that she’d take time to celebrate with her family, but has set her sights on competing in track cycling at the next Olympics in Paris in 2024.
Unlike BMX, which races on a track with multiple turns and is sometimes off-road, track cycling is indoors and held on a specially-made, ovoid track with built-in slopes.
BMX races are also completed over a series of heats before a final race, whereas track cycling has five different events racers can compete in individually or alongside a team of riders.
The track cycling competition begins at Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 2.
Colombia’s only athlete in track cycling at the 2020 games is Kevin Quintero, who specializes in sprinting events.
In all likelihood, Pajón will be one of them in three years time, at the age of 32.
Despite her BMX defeat in Tokyo, she still goes home as the most decorated Olympian in Colombia’s history and the only one to get two gold medals.
It may be silver this time around, but Pajón told Reuters that the effort she put in makes “it feel like gold.”