‘I can’t believe it’s over’: Australian BMX star Saya Sakakibara out after crash

Tokyo: Australian BMX racing star Saya Sakakibara has been stretchered off from her last semi-final run at the Tokyo Olympics.

Sakakibara led throughout the course until the final turn. As she leapt into the final ditch of the concrete course her bike appeared to skid, before another rider landed on top of her.

Saya Sakakibara suffered a nasty crash at her BMX race semi-final run on Friday.Credit:Getty Images

In tense scenes, she was stretchered off the course to claps from officials. She was conscious and had her arms raised above her head as she was carried away.

The 21-year-old was set to take out one of the top spots in the final where she was a genuine medal contender.

“I feel like I let everyone down. Especially my brother. I, honestly, I don’t really know what happened, but I know that I was riding really well,” she said.

Her brother, Kai, also a BMX champion, suffered a brain injury after crashing last year.

Saya Sakakibara led until the final ditch.Credit:Getty Images

“I came down with Alise who caught up with me, we came down together. That’s all I remember. Yeah, this is so disappointing.

“I can’t believe it’s over. It didn’t really hit me until I watched that women’s race. Yeah, just really sucks for sure. I can’t believe it’s over. I want to say to everybody back home I thank you so much for supporting me. It would have been great to be in that final and go for that gold, but this is the sport of BMX.

Sakakibara was lucky to avoid being taken out in her first run after two riders landed on top of each other, but she went wide on the crucial first corner allowing American Alise Willoughby through.

Australian veteran Lauren Reynolds qualified in the last spot for Friday’s final, but came fifth.

In heat two Reynolds flew over the first corner, ending up off the course as she looked to built up speed coming down the sharp left-hand bank. The mistake cost her dearly, ending up crossing the last place. But the 30-year-old made up the lost time in her second run, pushing Briton Bethany Schriever all the way in Ariake Park.

Schriever took gold, Colombia’s Mariana Pajon silver and Merel Smulders from the Netherlands took won bronze.

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