Pajon defends women's Olympic BMX gold, Fields wins for US
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) The United States ended its gold medal drought in BMX racing after Connor Fields won the men's Olympic final in the American-born sport on Friday, and Mariana Pajon of Colombia successfully defend her title in the women's final.
U.S. cyclist Alise Post took silver behind Pajon, while Stefany Hernandez of Venezuela won bronze.
A fan favorite, Pajon raised her bike in the air after pedaling to a stop across the finish line, acknowledging the adoring fans in the stands waving the yellow, blue and red flag of her home country.
Fields was just as jubilant after racing to the front and holding off Dutch rider Jelle van Gorkom at the finish line to take the gold.
There was a photo finish for third, with Carlos Ramirez Yepes of Colombia just edging out the United States' Nic Long for the bronze. Officials went to a video replay to determine that medal.
Still, it was a banner day for the United States. The medals for Fields and Post snapped a podium drought in London in 2012.
It had been a trying few months for Fields, who broke a bone in his left hand in the spring. He only returned to the bike in June, and needed a special brace to compete in Rio de Janeiro.
The reigning world champion, Pajon enjoyed home-continent advantage and acknowledged loud fans who wore Team Colombia shirts. Pajon rode to the front early in each of her three semifinal heats, and never looked back, either after the first turn in the final.
She's a star in Colombia, so much so that a BMX track has been named in her honor. She won a world title on that course in May.
Pajon will take home a bigger prize when she returns to Medellin.