In the BMX World Championship in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, Mariana Pajón crashed out of the main race in the semifinal after a tough duel with her rivals
Mariana Pajón, the 23-year-old cyclist from Antioquia, had just come off the back of a disappointing performance at the Pan American Games in Canada where she crashed in the final, leaving her in seventh place.
And then it happened again, less than two weeks later at the World Championships in Belgium, the biggest tournament of the year in the BMX calendar.
Dubbed the Queen of BMX, Pajón did take gold in the time trial, but Colombian fans are outraged that she got knocked out of the main event.
The Olympic champion was visibly struggling with the wet conditions on the track, but held strong until she got mixed up in a fight for the final qualifying spots with Laura Smulders from the Netherlands.
On the last turn, the Dutch cyclist pushed Mariana off her line and out of the track. The jury did not challenge the move and Mariana limped off the track with assistance from her team but without the expected title.
There is no doubt that Mariana is still the woman to beat, as she demonstrated in the time-trial race the day before. She dominated the field with a time of 35.518 seconds, winning her the gold medal and demonstrating exactly why she is the world number one. Alise Post from the USA took silver, 0.408 seconds behind and New Zealand’s Sarah Walker picked up the bronze, almost a full second behind.
In the main race of the men’s tournament Carlos Oquendo just came short of the podium in fourth spot behind 19-year-old Dutch title winner Niek Kimmann, Jelle Van Gorkom, the second Dutchman on the podium, and Swiss bronze medalist David Graf.
The next big tournament for both Pajón and Oquendo is the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where Mariana aims to pick up her second Olympic gold and Oquendo will be aiming to improve on his bronze medal performance in London 2012.
By Freek Huigen