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29th Olympic Games - JO
Beijing, China, August 9-23, 2008
Event 35 - August 21: Men's BMX Semi-Finals and Finals,
Strombergs storms to BMX history
Latvia's Maris Strombergs has secured his place in the Olympic history books after becoming the first Elite Men's gold medallist. The rider outclassed his rivals in the men's final race, with United States of America riders Mike Day and favourite Donny Robinson settling for silver and bronze respectively.
"It's great," Strombergs told local media. "I come from a country where we only have 120 BMX riders.
"I hope this achievement will make people sit up and take notice of us - and help us to get better," he added.
Despite missing out on the gold medal, Day was delighted that things came together for a medal winning ride. "I had a good start," Day said. "I was right there. Just couldn't get in front of him [Strombergs]."
"Incredible is how I'd describe it," said Day. "Silver medal, after three and a half years of training, I can't complain. We had all the resources to make this happen and we're excited to be here. Two men and a woman on the podium, I'm pumped."
One rider that was feeling short changed after the final was Australia's Jared Graves. The medal contender was holding third place when the bike of South African Sifiso Nhlapo, who had come unstuck, took out Graves' rear wheel.
"I was just trying to lean into the corner to hold on to third and guys are just riding stupid, trying moves that weren't on," said Graves. "I'm pretty disappointed about how some of the other guys rode. I know they've got to be aggressive, it's the Olympic final, but they took themselves down in the process."
Graves remounted his bike and crossed the line in last place. Nhlapo and France's Damien Godet, who was also caught up in the incident, didn't cross the finish line.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Casey Gibson/www.cbgphoto.com
Finals 1 Maris Strombergs (Latvia) 0.36.19 2 Mike Day (United States) 0.00.42 3 Donny Robinson (United States) 0.00.78 4 Andres Jimenez (Colombia) 0.02.95 5 Rob Van Den Wildenberg (Netherlands) 0.03.58 6 Jared Graves (Australia) 1.43.04 DNF Sifiso Nhlapo (South Africa) DNF Damien Godet (France) Semifinals Heat 1 fastest of three runs for final qualifiers 1 Mike Day (United States) 5 pts 36.219 2 Sifiso Nhlapo (South Africa) 8 36.457 3 Donny Robinson (United States) 10 36.462 4 Andres Jimenez (Colombia) 13 36.862 5 Raymon Van Der Biezen (Netherlands) 14 6 Kyle Bennett (United States) 14 7 Arturs Matisons (Latvia) 22 8 Marc Willers (New Zealand) 23 Heat 2 1 Maris Strombergs (Latvia) 3 pts 36.071 2 Rob Van Den Wildenberg (Netherlands) 9 36.360 3 Jared Graves (Australia) 10 36.904 4 Damien Godet (France) 14 36.707 5 Cristian Daniel Becerine (Argentina) 15 6 Kamakazi (Australia) 18 7 Roger Rinderknecht (Switzerland) 19 8 Manuel De Vecchi (Italy) 20