Olympics: USA fails to medal in BMX
London • Brooke Crain raced to a last-place finish in the finals with a torn quadriceps. Alise Post had to be helped off the course after a crash of her own. Connor Fields crashed in two of his four races, including once into the wall.
And Cedar Hills native Arielle Martin watched on television from a hospital bed, recovering from three surgeries to repair a lacerated liver and collapsed lung.
Did we miss anyone?
It's been a rough couple of weeks for the U.S. BMX racing team, which crashed, skidded and slammed its way through the semifinals and finals at the London Olympics on Friday. The Americans failed to win a medal or come close enough to distinguish the colors of the medals in a sport invented in Southern California.
"I'm heavily disappointed to see the U.S. wasn't able to bring any medals back this time around," Post said. "I think we're all riding extremely well and we're capable of doing so. It just didn't go our way today."
Not in the least.
"I came here to make the final and win a medal," said David Herman, 22, who failed to qualify for the finals after getting stuck behind another crash on his third semifinal run, "That definitely wasn't out of reach for me and to not execute that is kind of puts a damper on my Olympic experience."
The sentiment for each of his teammates? Copy, paste, repeat.
Defending gold medalist Maris Strombergs, from Latvia, won the men's side, while Colombia's Mariana Pajon won for the women.
Of the four Americans competing, only Crain and Fields advanced to the finals, and Crain was already a long shot. She finished eighth, while Fields considered a favorite came in seventh in the men's race.
The team's alternate only learned she was going to the Olympics on July 31, the night before the team left for London. She replaced Martin, the Lone Peak High School graduate, after Martin crashed at U.S. training facility in Chula Vista, Calif., on July 31. She had been favored to win a medal.
Crain raced with "AMV" on the palm of her gloves (for Arielle Martin-Verhaaren) and said she was racing for her teammate.
"I'm here to represent her," said Crain, from Visalia, Calif. "I was just the alternate, so I'm riding for her."
After the competition ended, Martin posted a message to her Twitter account thanking Crain for the sentiment. She also directed a message at each of her teammates, saying "proud to have trained alongside you and for the exposure you gave our sport today."
If Friday is the new standard, BMX has outgrown the United States and gone global. The men's medals were won by cyclists from Latvia, Australia and Colombia. On the women's side, it was Colombia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
In Beijing, where BMX made its debut, the U.S. won three of six possible medals.
Fields pointed to government funding bolstering other nations' programs, leading to the quick rise of the sport throughout the world.
"I just know some of the stuff other guys have as resources," Fields said. "They have awesome programs around them. The thing, too, is the other countries don't have as much depth so all their resources get poured into one or two guys."
The finish left the U.S.'s top two men's riders on opposite ends of the spectrum, demonstrating just how quickly sports move.
Herman said he will not race in Rio de Janeiro at the next Olympics. He will be 26 by those Games.
"The class is getting younger and younger," Herman said. "And the guys that I beat this year are younger than me and I just don't see it happening in four years."
But Fields is just 19, and has only been a professional for one year.
"The good news is I'll be 23 in Rio and go for it again," he said.
• After winning three of six possible medals in Beijing, the U.S. BMX team did not reach the podium Friday.
• Racer Brooke Crain raced with the initials of injured teammate Arielle Martin, from Cedar Hills, on her gloves.