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LONDON, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Mariana Pajon, Colombia's flag
bearer at the opening ceremony, earned her country their first
gold medal of the London Games when she thundered to victory in
the women's BMX event on Friday.
Pajon, also the second Colombian to win an Olympic gold
after weightlifter Maria Isabel Urrutia prevailed in Sydney in
2000, had dominated her three semi-final runs in awe-inspiring
She carried the momentum in the final where she led the
eight-rider strong field after the first bend and never looked
back, something she was happy to do at a news conference later.
"I started gymnastics when I was five, but I started BMX
when I was three," she recalled, beaming with joy.
"I was doing gymnastics, BMX and cart racing. However BMX
wasn't at the Olympics and I wanted to be here, then BMX was
introduced in Beijing and I started training.
"I started racing when I was three and I realised I could do
this and do it well. I started winning at four with the boys and
won my first world title at eight."
New Zealand's Sarah Walker took silver and Dutchwoman Laura
Smulders claimed bronze while local British hopeful Shanaze
Reade had to settle for sixth.
She finished just behind Caroline Buchanan of Australia, the
BMX time trial world champion.
"I can't believe it," said Pajon, who blew kisses to the
capacity crowd. "It's like a dream come true. I've been trying
to win this my whole life. I just wanted go out of the gate and
win it. It's unbelievable."
On a very tricky course, Pajon once again used her explosive
start to take the early lead, which proved unassailable for her
"I have tried so hard for it and I just did it," she said.
"I felt really strong, I had really good gates and that's it. I
really had fun on it. I have to wake up tomorrow and realise
what I have just won."
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Mark Meadows and