Last two chances for Great Britain to gain Olympic cycling medals
Great Britain enjoyed Olympic Games success on the road with Bradley Wiggins and on the track with Chris Hoy, Laura Trott, Vicky Pendleton and others, but the Olympics aren't over yet. This weekend is Team GB's final chance to score more Olympic hardware. Annie Last will race the women's cross country mountain bike race on Saturday while Liam Killeen will race the men's event on Sunday.
Killeen was seventh at the 2004 Olympic Games and fifth in 2008. The 30-year-old crashed in both previous editions, but considered his results good.
However, despite his past success, only three reporters showed up at a Team GB press conference featuring Killeen earlier this week. "Personally I don't crave the spotlight. I will do whatever I can to achieve a great result," he said according to Reuters. "But whatever happens to me, I think the mountain bike race will be a great spectacle for the sport. There are going to 20,000 spectators there and hopefully that will inspire a few more riders to the sport."
Killeen is looking forward to racing on home turf on Sunday. "I personally find the home crowd gives me a boost so I'm hoping it will again this time," Killeen told echo-news.co.uk. "I had the opportunity to race the Commonwealth Games in Manchester back in 2002 and I can still remember it now. I had goose bumps going up all the big climbs. It really lifted me big time and more of the same would be great at the weekend."
Killeen thinks it is a challenging course and expects it will produce a good race.
Annie Last will be the first Olympic female mountain biker from Great Britain since the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The nation is not exactly known for its cross country mountain bike achievements although it can boast the current downhill world champion Danny Hart in its ranks.
"I never really thought about the history of women in the sport until last year when I got my first top-10 finish in an elite race at the World Cup," Last told bakewelltoday.co.uk.
"People were telling me that was the first time anyone has done that for this many years. I knew there wasn't really the older women there to train with and learn from."
She is hoping to leverage her success to encourage more women to take up mountain bike riding and racing in the UK.
Last, who is still a U23 rider, won a round of the eliminator World Cup earlier this season and briefly led the Pietermaritzburg cross country World Cup earlier this season.
She knows she has got a long cycling career ahead of her but is optimistic about her chances of success on Saturday.
"I have been working hard over the last two years to make the Olympics and when it was announced we had a place, it suddenly made me realise that I had an actual chance of making it," said Last.
"I think with my absolute best performance, if everything went absolutely perfectly on the day, then there is a chance that I could get a medal."
A pre-Olympic video chat with Annie Last, from the archives, is below.
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