Pajón Gives Colombia Its First Gold at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

Mariana Pajón could be called Colombia’s golden girl…

The 20-year-old Colombian cyclist won the women’s BMX competition on Friday at the 2012 Olympic Games, giving her country its first gold at the London Games.

Mariana Pajon

Pajón, a former world champion, was the leader of the pack from the get-go on the challenging course, crossing the line in 37.706 seconds after an impeccable run.

Pajon hit her stride at the right time after being hindered by a shoulder injury earlier this season.

“I’ve been trying to win this my whole life,” said Pajón,  her country’s flagbearer at the opening ceremony. “I just wanted go out of the gate and win it. It’s unbelievable.”

Mariana Pajon

Seconds after zooming past the finish line, Pajón blew kisses to the crowd as members of the Colombian team began celebrating. She then was cheered by a couple dozen Colombian fans packed into a small section of the stands.

Pajón credits her victory on the dangerous and technical course to the quick start coming out of the first corner ahead of her rivals. She had posted three consecutive wins in the semifinals earlier Friday.

“I have tried so hard for it, and I just did it,” said Pajón, who her first national title at the age of 5 and her first world title at 9. “I felt really strong, I had really good gates and that’s it. I really had fun on it. … I have to wake up tomorrow and realize what I have just won.”

Mariana Pajon

Sarah Walker of New Zealand claimed silver and Laura Smulders of the Netherlands took bronze.