One of Britain’s strongest hopes for a gold medal, BMX cyclist Shanaze Reade, is hoping the power of the Jamaicans and the luck of the Irish will help her secure a medal at the London games.
The 23-year old part-Jamaican from Crewe in England has strong family connections with Granard. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper earlier this year, Shanaze said: “My nan is full Irish with a strong accent. She’s got 15 or 16 brothers and sisters and lots of them are also in Crewe. But we’ve got loads of family in Granard, in Ireland, and everyone there knows about me. It’s quite funny.”
At the last Olympics in Beijing, Shanaze was the red-hot favourite to land the gold after dominating her sport for years despite her young age. Then just a teenager, and competing at her first games, she crashed three times, in the opening time trial, the semi final and in the final itself.
Testament to her talent, she still finished eighth overall, but the loss was a devastating blow. She has since described it as the worst time of her life.
Now with four years more experience she hopes to land that elusive gold. “I do see 2012 as a fantastic opportunity because some people have already got a gold medal tucked away in their bedrooms. But all I’ve got to show from the Olympics is a certificate saying I finished eighth in Beijing. I’ve been waiting all this time for another opportunity.”
This is just the second time BMX has been at the Olympics, having been introduced in Beijing. This year’s competitors (32 men and 16 women) will battle it out at the BMX Track in the Olympic Park from Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 August, with Shanaze due to compete on Wednesday August 8.