Brooke Crain is going back to the Olympics, without the last-minute rush this time.
The BMX racer from Visalia was named to the U.S. Olympic team Thursday, earning her second trip to the Summer Games after going as a late injury replacement to London in 2012.
“I’m extremely honored,” Crain said. “Obviously, it feels good to actually qualify. It was a weight lifted off my shoulders to do that this time. In 2012, I was an alternate and that’s not the way you want to go. It’s been four years of hard work and determination for this moment.”
Crain, 23, knew she was in line to receive one of two BMX spots on the U.S. women’s team – the other going to Alise Post – because of her standing in the Union Cycliste Internationale Women’s Elite rankings.
Crain is seventh in the world with 1,130 points and second among all U.S. riders behind Post’s 1,575.
In 2012, Crain missed out on qualifying for one of the two U.S. Olympic berths because she was third in points behind Post and Arielle Martin. Martin suffered an injury just days before they were to depart for London, creating an opening for Crain.
I’m extremely honored. Obviously, it feels good to actually qualify. It was a weight lifted off my shoulders to do that this time.
Visalia BMX rider Brooke Crain, named to the U.S. Olympic Team after going to London in 2012 as an injury fill-in
The then-19-year-old Crain crashed during qualifying on the first day, but went on to make the main event and place eighth.
“I’m thankful I was there and to experience that. It will help me so much leading into Rio,” Crain said. “In London, I wasn’t ready to be there, not mentally or physically. I was like a deer in the headlights while I was there. Now that I’ve had that experience, I can fully embrace the Olympic Games and know I am there for a job, to bring home an Olympic medal.”
Crain is working her way back into shape after suffering a slight fracture of her left fibula six weeks ago during a World Cup race in Holland.
She was in a boot for two weeks, started doing sprints four weeks after the injury and has spent the past week back on the track. She expects to be completely healthy for the BMX portion of the Rio Games from Aug. 17-19.
“It was the best-case scenario, a light fracture. It wasn’t displaced at all,” Crain said. “I’m fully healed and ready to go now. I’ve been training hard for the past two weeks, and now I’m back to 100 percent and healthy. I’m ready, focused and looking forward to a good experience.”
BMX competition sees riders launch themselves from an 8-meter-high ramp and race over a dirt track featuring banked corners that flow into jumps and short straightaways. Competition starts with time trials to determine seeding before moving on to heat races and eventually an eight-rider final.
UCI Women’s Elite BMX world rankings
*According to UCI Regulations