Connor Fields wins first BMX gold medal for U.S.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO -- The United States has ended its gold medal drought in BMX cycling after Connor Fields took the men's final.

It was a banner day for the United States. American cyclist Alise Post took silver in the women's race behind Mariana Pajon of Colombia. The medals for Fields and Post snapped a podium drought that began in London in 2012.

Fields won with a time of 34.622 seconds, beating the Netherlands' Jelle van Gorkom by .684 seconds. It's the first time that Team USA has won BMX since the American-born action sport became an Olympic medal event in 2008.

There was a photo finish for third, with Carlos Ramirez Yepes of Colombia just edging out the United States' Nic Long for the bronze.

It had been a trying few months for Fields, who broke a bone in his left hand in the spring. He only returned to the bike in June, and needed a special brace to compete in Rio de Janeiro.

On the women's side, Pajon, a fan favorite, raised her bike in the air after pedaling to a stop across the finish line, acknowledging the adoring fans in the stands waving the yellow, blue and red flag of her home country.

She raced to the front early and completed the nearly quarter mile-long course filled with bumps and twists in 34.093 seconds, .342 seconds faster than Post.

Stefany Hernandez of Venezuela won the bronze. France's Manon Valentino was taken off a stretcher after crossing the finish line, appearing to favor her left side.