The Colombian Mariana Pajón celebrates her performance, this Friday.José Méndez / EFE
The world queen of BMX is Colombian, but she is no longer indestructable. Mariana Pajón, who after winning her first Olympic medal nine years ago had the five rings tattooed on her right wrist, won the silver medal this Friday at the Ariake Urban Park in Tokyo and gave her crown to the British Bethany Shriever. Thus it was consolidated as a historic joust, but it was one step away from adding its third consecutive gold. His compatriot Carlos Alberto Ramírez also repeated a bronze medal by finishing third in the men's category.
Pajón (Medellín, 29 years old) arrived in Tokyo as a two-time Olympic champion, after hanging the gold medal in both London and Rio de Janeiro.
He did not clash on a long and highly technical track for which he prepared with care and discipline, although he finished second behind the young Shriever, 22, who has confessed as his admirer, and ahead of the Dutch Merel Smulders, who he kept the bronze.
This Friday's medal, even silver, has a special flavor for the 1.58-meter-tall South American bike rider nicknamed the 'atomic ant' for her speed and power.
Pajón herself, who suffered long periods of injuries in recent years, has said that it was convenient for her to postpone the jousts to arrive in better condition.
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Accustomed to falling and getting up, the multiple world champion has suffered all kinds of blows in the more than 20 years that she has been competing at the highest level.
He has fractured from the clavicle to the ankle, but in Tokyo he has shown his maturity.
Pajón, or simply Mariana, as many refer to her in Colombia, is one of the most beloved athletes, and winners, in her country.
She achieved her first world title at the age of nine in a competition in Argentina in which she was the only woman, and since then she has not stopped accumulating feats on the bicycle.
After having rotated his knee ligaments in 2018, an unusual injury on BMX, Pajón recovered, inspired by soccer player Falcao García, he said, in time to get closer to his best.
She won gold at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, and last May she won the BMX World Cup, which allowed her to regain first place in the International Cycling Union ranks from which she had been displaced.
In an eventful day that saw several competitors fall spectacularly in the qualifying heats, both men and women, Colombia also played the men's final with Carlos Alberto Ramírez (Medellín, 27 years old), a bronze medalist in Rio de Janeiro, who managed to secure that third place for second consecutive games.
Along with triple jumper Caterine Ibargüen, another current champion, the two women from Antioquia are the big stars of the Colombian representation. They are joined by a young athlete, sprinter Anthony Zambrano (Maicao, 23 years old), with good chances in the 400 meter sprint after his silver at the 2019 Doha World Cup and gold at the Pan American Games that year. After having achieved three golds in Brazil, and a total of eight medals, the desire of the Colombian Olympic Committee (COC) to approach a dozen medals in Japan seems distant. Colombia had only added another silver medal so far, that of the weightlifter Luis Javier Mosquera in the 67 kilogram category. And great hopes of medals such as the weightlifter Mercedes Pérez or the tennis couple Robert Farah and Juan Sebastián Cabal, specialists in doubles,They already said goodbye to the jousts. For the moment, Colombia celebrates, as has become customary, the silver of its 'atomic ant'.
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