Team GB have set medal targets for each sport competed for at the Olympic Games, with the cycling team aiming for between six and ten gold medals, according to The Daily Telegraph. One of those burdened with the golden expectations of the host nation is three time BMX World Champion, Shanaze Reade.
Reade is no stranger to the expectations of her country, alongside her three BMX World Championships she is also a two time track cycling World Champion. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where BMX made its Olympic debut, Reade was the favorite to win gold for Great Britain. Rounding the final corner, Reade collided with eventual champion Anne-Caroline Chausson of France, and crashed out of the race. Preparations for the Olympics in 2012 have also been affected by a crash, with Reade crashing out of the 2012 BMX World Championships in Birmingham, England at the quarter-final stage.
Crashes are a common problem in BMX racing, which adds to the excitement and unpredictability of the sport. The BMX track at Olympic Park in London contains jumps, bumps and tight corners that combine to make crashes inevitable. Luck can play a vital role in a successful Olympics for a BMX athlete, remaining upright when other riders crash is vital to winning a gold medal.
One factor that bodes well for Shanaze Reade and her second attempt at winning Olympic gold is the inclusion of a seeding run on August 8th , 2012. This is a solo ride around London's BMX track that uses the time of each rider to complete the 440 meter circuit to seed riders, by finishing with a high place in the seeding run the more fancied riders can avoid each other in August 9th's quarter final. At the 2012 World Championships Reade won a silver medal in the individual time trial used to seed the riders, a similar result could make her passage through to the final easier.
Following her crash at the 2008 Olympics Reade faced a large amount of criticism in the U.K., victory on August 10th, 2012 at London's Olympic Park would go a long way to proving her doubters wrong. Competition at the Olympics will be tough, with a large number of riders aiming for the Women's BMX Olympic gold. Reade's rivals will include American Alise Post and Australia's Caroline Buchanan. Post is ranked second in the BMX World Cup standings as she enters the Olympics, according to USA Cycling. Caroline Buchanan is the leader of the 2012 BMX World Cup as the Olympics start. Buchanan, of Canberra, Australia was too young to compete in the 2008 Olympics, as was Post. Both make their Olympic debuts in London.
Paul Cartmell has been riding in a variety of bicycle disciplines, including road racing, mountain bikes and BMX as an amateur for over twenty years.