LIMA, Peru – USA Cycling earned two medals in BMX freestyle on the final day of competition at the Pan American Games Lima 2019. Hannah Roberts rode momentum from a solid seeding run earlier in the day to dominate the final with a gold-medal winning score of 86.67. On the men's side, Justin Dowell hung on with his final score of 85.17 to win bronze.
“This is crazy, I’m speechless,” Roberts said. “I came to win. I threw down a run that I thought would help me the most. I made a few mistakes, but I stayed on my bike. That’s the biggest thing. This is just awesome.”
Roberts entered competition Sunday as the No. 1 ranked women’s BMX freestyle rider in the world. She’s already won two UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup series events. She continued her standard of solid performances in the seeding phase as her average score of 84.42 was the top by 11.92 points. Her strong performance continued in the final.
As the best performer in the seeding round, Roberts had the benefit of going last. Her first round run of 86.67 was best in the field of eight by 19.67 points. None of her competitors approached her score in the second round. This allowed her to have a little fun.
With the gold already secured, Roberts used her second-round ride to get the crowd into it. She pumped them up before each ride by pumping her arms. The crowd responded with enthusiastic cheers. Roberts rewarded them with three difficult tricks, only one of which she landed to her liking, before calling it a day and accepting her gold medal.
“I told my coach that if I kept my lead that I was going to try something big,” Roberts said. “The crowd energy was great. I was stoked that the crowd was there and that they were getting so into it.”
In the men's final, Dowell, ranked the No. 1 men’s BMX freestyle rider in the world, didn't have the benefit of going last. His seeding phase average score of 79.92 was only third best among the eight competitors.
Despite his less than favorable seeding round, Dowell impressed in the first round. He jumped into first place with a score of 84.33 after Daniel Dhers of Venezuela fell toward the end of his run, and Julio Mosquera of Ecuador couldn’t match his seeding phase effort.
Dowell’s lead was short lived. He was passed by Jose Torres of Argentina, whose run received a score of soon 87.33 before Dowell took his second run. When it was Dowell’s turn, his score of 85.17 was enough for second.
Things got even tighter immediately following Dowell's run. Dhers rebounded from his fall in the first round to post a score of 88.50 in the second, which proved to be the best of the day and dropped Dowell to third. Mosquera, the top performer in the seeding phase, was the last to run. His score of 83.00 wasn't enough to get him on the podium. Dowell held on for the bronze medal.
“It’s an honor to be here and represent my country,” Dowell said. “I put down a pretty solid run. There were a few things that I messed up but walking away with the bronze is still an achievement.”