Saturday, August 11, 2012
Brooke Crain honors injured U.S. teammate in Olympic BMX final
Photo shows Brooke Crain at the starting gate of the women's Olympic BMX final, she flashed a message written on her glove. Three letters: "A-M-V."
This was her personal tribute to Arielle Martin-Verhaaren, the 27-year-old rider who suffered serious injuries when her bike chain broke during her last training run for London on July 30.
Martin suffered "severely lacerated liver and collapsed lung in the resulting crash." as reported by Salt Lake Tribune, " Her injuries made it too dangerous for her to join the team in London, even as a spectator. After three surgeries, she's still hospitalized.
It would have been Martin's first Olympics; instead, it was Crain's, as the U.S. team's designated alternate. It could have been Martin racing in the final of the London Games' women's BMX competition in Olympic Park; instead, it was Crain.
Racing against the world's elite riders, Crain had the slowest time in the final, finishing in eighth place at 40.286 seconds. Mariana Pajon of Columbia won gold at 37.706, after rolling through the heats.
Crain, 19, discovered she was replacing Martin the night before the team was leaving for London. She would have flown over with the team anyway, lodging with them and soaking up the Olympic experience. But now she wasn't a tourist she was a competitor for a medal.
During the seeding heats, Crain's Olympic dream appeared like it might end. On the last straightaway, her back wheel clipped a hill.
Her torso plowed into the ground, her body lifted up and then slammed to the ground a second time. She was helped up off the course, but eventually rode off slowly on her bike. U.S. team officials later said she was sore but anticipated she would race in Friday's semifinals.
The crash nearly taketh away, and then the crash giventh in BMX: In the second semifinal race, a huge collision of riders around the first turn left just three racing towards the finish line. One of them was Crain, who placed third in the race to bolster her chances to advance. One of the riders caught in the mayhem: Alise Post, a U.S. rider many expected to advance.
Despite the crash, Post was third overall entering the final race of the heat.
That's when disaster struck for the 21-year-old rider: With four hills to go before the finish, Post crashed her bike and needed to be helped from the track.
She finished eighth; Crain was third in the semifinals.