Sweet Redemption: Caroline Buchanan And Liam Phillips Win BMX World Championships

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22-year-old Caroline Buchanan entered Sunday’s BMX World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand as a perennial favorite to win the event. This wasn’t the first time however the youngster had gone into a major BMX event as the favorite to win gold. Just over a year ago, Buchanan flew to London with one thing on her mind: Olympic gold. While her goals at the 2012 Olympic Games didn’t exactly play out, Buchanan entered the 2013 Worlds with her eyes on redemption. She got just that when she crossed the line ahead of countrywoman Lauren Reynolds with a 1.296 second lead to earn herself the rainbow stripes, distinguishing her as a world champion.

‘‘I wasn’t going to go into the world championship final and do what I did in London,’’ Buchanan said. “‘I had a smile on my face when I was in the gate. It was my time to turn that around and take control.’’

25.506 seconds was all it took to redeem herself, but it has been a long journey back to the top. Citing poor tactics in the Olympic final, Buchanan didn’t put herself in a proper position to win the event, as Columbian Mariana Pajon cut her off, ultimately leaving her to finish fifth and out of medal contention. Buchanan entered Sunday’s event at Vector Arena, determined to take control of her own race. She did so when she cut off the Olympic champion right out of the gates. The Aussie steamed around the tricky course, crossing the line ahead of Reynolds and Frenchwoman Manon Valentino who placed third.

“I was able to harness a lot of inner-strength and pull on what happened in London,” the newly crowned World Champion said. "When it comes to finals you’ve got to release the mongrel and get aggressive.”

Buchanan was ecstatic with her win in Auckland and took to Twitter to express her joy.

“Wahhhhhhhhoooooo! I am speechless Thank you 2013 BMX World Champion!”

Buchanan did have one special request as payment for her World Championship: a chance to meet fellow Oakley athlete and skateboard legend, Ryan Sheckler.

@CBuchanan68:
@oakley @OakleySports how about as my BMX World Champion bonus.. I get to meet @RyanSheckler ??

We’re seeing what we can do about that one…

Video credit: UCI Cycling Channel

On the men’s side, another Olympic hopeful, 24-year-old Liam Phillips looked to redeem himself after a devastating crash in the 2012 finals in London. Phillips had also previously broken his collarbone in a crash at the 2012 BMX World Championships. Similar to Buchanan, the British rider shot out of the gates in New Zealand, headed towards a 23.280 second winning ride. Phillips beat hometown favorite Marc Willers and Germany’s Luis Brethauer, who rounded out the podium.

“It feels amazing, the reward for the hours spent training, we dedicate our lives to this,” said Phillips following his world championship victory. “What you see here is the end product of so much hard work. It’s been a fantastic race, incredible.”

With his victory in Auckland, Phillps became the first British BMXer to win a world championship since Shanaze Reade in 2010 and the first British man to do so since Dale Holmes in 2001.

Video credit: UCI Cycling Channel

In other UCI BMX World Championship races, 2012 Olympic Champion, Mariana Pajon won the Women’s Elite Time Trial World Championship, while American Felicia Stancil won both events as the Women’s Junior World Champion.