RIO DE JANEIRO – Connor Fields (Henderson, Nev.) rode off with Olympic gold in the men’s BMX final and Alise Post (Chula Vista, Calif.) won silver in the women’s event.
Fields and Nic Long (Lakeside, Calif.) both lined up for the men’s main event after advancing from the semifinals earlier in the morning.
“It’s about getting into the final, and once you’re in that final, everything gets wiped off the board and it’s just one time for glory,” Fields said. “It doesn’t matter how you got into the final. It doesn’t matter what gate you’re in. Everyone there has a chance. I was up there and I smiled to myself and I was like ‘I’m just gonna just put all the cards on the table and have a crack at it’.”
After the gate dropped, the Americans took immediate control in the first straight. Going into the first corner, Long led and Fields was in second. Fields took over the first position though as Jelle Van Gorkom (NED) ended up passing Long.
“I had the best start probably of my entire life,” Fields explained. “I came out to the turn in second place and from there instinct took over. I found the hole and got into the front. There was a moment when I exited the last corner and realized I was winning and I realized 70 meters in front of me is an Olympic gold medal. I was just like, ‘get to the line, get to the line, get to the line’.”
Fields clung to his lead all the way to the finish and was named Olympic champion. Van Gorkom followed him for the silver. Long battled Carlos Alberto Ramirez-Yepes (COL) for the bronze, and as they crossed the line together, it went to a photo finish. Results then showed that the two tied for third, but after several video replays, it was determined that Ramirez Yepes would take home the bronze medal and Long would settle for fourth.
“Honestly, it feels like a dream,” Fields said. “I’m gonna wake up tomorrow morning and it’s gonna be real and it’s an incredible feeling. It’s so awesome to have my dad here to share it with me.”
Alise Post made it to the women’s final after a strong showing in the semifinals where she placed third in run one, second in run two, and third in run three. She took gate five in the main while compatriot Brooke Crain (Visalia, Calif.) was in gate three after also advancing from the semifinals.
As soon as the gate dropped, reigning world champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Mariana Pajon (COL) took the lead and never relinquished it.
As the race unfolded, Frenchwoman Manon Valentino crashed, and then Laura Smulders (NED) went down in the final corner, but Post stayed right there with Pajon and crossed the finish line behind her for the silver medal. Stefany Hernandez (VEN) collected the bronze while Crain crossed in fourth place.
‘Feels like a win to me’
“You know honestly, I’d come in here with hopes of a gold medal and here I am with a silver and you’d think I’d be disappointed, but I’m 100 percent proud of the effort given today and it feels like a win to me,” Post said. “I just think that shut-out in 2012 when we had the same capabilities there, I think it’s wonderful to come into this event and we knew what we needed to do today and this is amazing.”
Post said she’s proud of Fields as Team USA’s first gold medalist and the women’s performances.
“I think we can only go forward from here and be proud of our team,” Post said. “Everyone came from the last Games and was younger. It was the first experience for everyone last time but we came into this more prepared and as veterans. We’re more experienced than ever and it was a great honor to represent the U.S.”
Corben Sharrah (Tucson, Ariz.) also competed for the USA on Friday but was eliminated from contention during the men’s semifinals when he placed sixth in run one, second in run two, and fourth in run three.
Cycling competition will conclude at the Rio Olympics this weekend with Lea Davison (Jericho, Vt.) and Chloe Woodruff (Prescott, Ariz.) representing the USA in the women’s cross-country mountain bike race on Saturday, and Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo.) racing for the USA in the men’s cross-country mountain bike race on Sunday. Both mountain bike races begin at 11:30 ET.
Photos by Getty Images/USA Cycling