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29th Olympic Games - JO
Beijing, China, August 9-23, 2008
Event 36 - August 21: Women's BMX Semi-Finals and Finals
French affair as Chausson claims curtain call gold
Anne-Caroline Chausson topped a French one-two in the elite women's first Olympic Games medal race, with compatriot Laetitia Le Corguille bringing home the silver medal. Despite being one of the field's oldest competitors, Chausson looked like the woman to beat heading into BMX's Olympic debut.
While Chausson had eased off the top level of competition in recent years, after learning of BMX's inclusion in the Olympics she jumped back on the bike and has been training, and winning, on her way to Beijing. The form showed from the outset in China, with the rider topping every session on her way to gold.
After winning gold Chausson announced the race would be her final competitive event. In addition to her 15 UCI rainbow world champions jerseys, primarily from downhill mountain biking, Chausson claimed the Alternative Sportsperson of the year title at the 2003 Laureus World Sports Awards.
"It's been a long two years of hard work, but this is definitely my last race," Chausson told CNN. "To finish as Olympic champion, having applied all the things we've worked on in training for this over the past two years is just amazing."
United States of America's Jill Kitner claimed bronze. "First woman for America, in the first event ever, first medal, it's such a piece of history," said Kintner. "I'm so glad I can represent and be a part of it. Mikey and Donny and me, it's huge for American BMX. This'll bring a big boost to our program. It puts us on the map again."
The expected battle to the line between Chausson and Great Britain's Shanaze Reade didn't eventuate, with Reade crashing in the final turn. "I'm hurting," Reade told media. "I think I might have broken my hand and I'm cut all over. I'm only 19, there's so much more to come from me as an athlete. I feel like I might not want to see my bike for a while."
BMX World Cup winner Sarah Walker from New Zealand just missed out on a medal, in fourth place. Australia's Nicole Callisto was another rider to watch her medal hopes ride away, after she crashed in the first corner.
"I slid out on the first turn and I just sort of sat there and a few tears ran down my face...it was a race that could change your life," said Callisto. "This Olympics has been a big learning experience and I still have a lot to learn but I'm really looking forward to [London in 2012]."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Casey Gibson/www.cbgphoto.com
Finals 1 Anne-Caroline Chausson (France) 0.35.98 2 Laetitia Le Corguille (France) 0.02.07 3 Jill Kintner (United States) 0.02.70 4 Sarah Walker (New Zealand) 0.02.83 5 Gabriela Diaz (Argentina) 0.03.77 6 Nicole Callisto (Australia) 0.43.63 DNF Sammy Cools (Canada) REL Shanaze Reade (Great Britain) Semifinals Heat 1 fastest of three runs for final qualifiers 1 Anne-Caroline Chausson (France) 4 pts 36.747 2 Sarah Walker (New Zealand) 6 36.731 3 Gabriela Diaz (Argentina) 13 37.605 4 Sammy Cools (Canada) 14 38.690 5 Jana Horakova (Czech Republic) 16 6 Jenny Fahndrich (Switzerland) 17 7 Liyun Ma (China) 18 8 Amanda Soerensen (Denmark) 20 Heat 2 1 Laetitia Le Corguille (France) 4 pts 37.076 2 Jill Kintner (United States) 9 38.235 3 Shanaze Reade (Great Britain) 10 36.699 4 Nicole Callisto (Australia) 12 38.244 5 Lieke Klaus (Netherlands) 13 6 Aniko Hodi (Hungary) 18 7 Maria Belen Dutto (Argentina) 20 8 Tanya Bailey (Australia) 22