Rio 2016: Mariana Pajon dominates to win BMX gold in front of raucous Colombian crowd

Rio 2016: Mariana Pajon dominates to win BMX gold in front of raucous Colombian crowd

Colombia's Mariana Pajon and America's Connor Fields prevailed in the Olympic BMX races to win gold

Tom Hiscott

Colombian fans flocked to the Olympic BMX Centre in Rio, and they were not left disappointed, after picking up medal's in both the men and women events. 

Without a shadow of a doubt, the star of the show was Mariana Pajon, who claimed gold in as dominant a display of cycling as we have seen at these Olympics.

On the men's side, Pajon's fellow Colombian Carlos Alberto Ramirez Yepes claimed bronze, with America's Connor Fields taking the gold.  

Pajon the class of the field as she rides to gold

Following on from Wednesday's ranking round, Pajon came into Friday's semi-final as one of the clear-cut favourites for gold. 

The defending Olympic champion and six-time World Champion was drawn in heat one, and from the get-go she laid down a marker. 

Mariana Pajon on her way to gold (image via: Christian Petersen/Getty)

Winning all three of her heat's, 2012 champion Pajon eased into the final as the number one seed, with Laura Smulders coming out on top in the second heat.

Riding eight abreast along the track, there were plenty of thrills and spills over the two day's of racing, but thanks to her speed and quickness off the line, no other riders ever got close enough to make contact with the Colombian ace. 

Heading into the final, Pajon was clearly the women to beat, and she lived up to the favourites tag in a dominant performance from the inside lane. Leading from start to finish, Pajon flew over the jumps on her way to retaining the Olympic title and sending the Colombian fans into a frenzy. 

The USA's Alise Post came home second to grab silver, with another South American in the form of Venezuela's Stefany Hernandez grabbing bronze as crashes to Smulders and Manon Valentino ended their hopes of a medal.

Fields picks up surprise gold in men's event 

In a final performance similar to that of Pajon's, Connor Fields took gold in the men's event after winning from post-to-post.

After an action-packed Thursday, which saw a number of favourites drop out at the quarter-final stage, Fields timed his run to perfection to become Olympic champion. 

Latvia's Maris Strombergs, who won gold in both Beijing and London, Liam Phillips of Great Britain and the fastest man in qualification Joris Daudet (France) all fell at the wayside to leave 16 riders battling it out in the semi-finals. 

Connor Fields leads home the men's BMX race (image via: Ryan Pierse/Getty)

Sam Willoughby of Australia matched the achievements of Pajon by winning all three races in his semi-final, but did not see it through in the final after finishing fifth. 

Fields eventually won in a time of 34.642 seconds, more than half a second ahead of Jelle Van Gorkom in silver, with Ramirez snatching the bronze on a red-letter day for Colombian BMX.