Annie Last of Great Britain was delighted with her eighth place finish in the Olympic Games women's mountain bike race. The 21-year-old made her Olympic debut on a hot day at Hadleigh Farm in Essex on Saturday.
"I'm really, really happy with my race," she said. "I came here and wanted to get the best out of myself. That's what I did."
"I wanted to put myself in the race from the start and get a good start so I had a clean run on that first half lap." Last was at the front in the beginning of the race. She led through the technical Dean's Drop section with eventual winner Julie Bresset (France) hot on her tail.
"The last few laps I slipped back a bit, but I left everything out there, so I'm pleased."
"To be able to race at a home Olympics in front of a home crowd was incredible. The crowd the whole way round was unbelievable. You can just feel the atmosphere and feel them pushing you forward."
The biggest cheers came when Last crossed the line, her face a picture of grim determination and effort. Upon finishing, she became the first British woman to finish an Olympic mountain bike race since Caroline Alexander in Sydney 2000.
Her Milka Brentjens Team Manager Bart Brentjens said, "It is a great performance by Annie Last in the biggest sporting event of the world. She has made an incredible step ahead this year and being 21 years old and finishing eighth at the Olympic Games is a big achievement. She will have a beautiful future ahead." Brentjens, the 1996 Olympic men's mountain bike gold medallist, paid tribute also to the Olympic organizers on the venue, course conditions and general atmosphere.
Last said she loves what she is doing and sees herself still being able to progress forward in the sport.
"This is what I'm going to stick at for the time being and keep at it."
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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