Logan Martin has come desperately close to reclaiming a rainbow jersey for the ARA Australian Cycling Team, denied only by an exceptional performance from Kieran Reilly of Great Britain in the BMX Freestyle Park final at the UCI Cycling World Championships.
As it had done throughout the whole competition in Glasgow, rain again played a factor in the final, delaying the start by an hour.
Australia’s Josh Matthews featured in the opening heat when the final did get underway, and the Queenslander put together two solid runs. Some untidy landings hampered his performance, but a 66.90 on his first run would eventually be good enough for 19th overall.
The action ramped up in the third heat, with Reilly – who qualified in 7th place – putting together a stunning run, posting a near-perfect score of 95.80.
Buoyed on by the crowd, the world number four ended his gold medal-winning run with a double flair that seemed to surprise even himself, throwing his bike away in disbelief after time expired.
Reilly’s score clearly added pressure to the six athletes remaining, with established riders such as Anthony Jeanjean (FRA), Rimu Nakamura (JPN), Daniel Sandoval (USA), and Justin Dowell (USA) forced into mistakes chasing big tricks.
With only two riders remaining and tension building, the weather would again interfere in proceedings, with rain forcing a delay of 60 minutes.
When competition resumed, defending champion Nakamura put together a technically strong run, good enough for fourth with 91.87.
Martin laid down a spectacular final run, wowing the crowd with his signature bike front-flip, but he couldn’t outdo Reilly’s heroics, coming up just short by half a point with a score of 95.30.
Speaking to AusCycling, Martin revealed how the rain delay had worked to his advantage, with the 29-year-old adding he had no regrets how his run played out.
“Look, that rain delay was honestly quite nice. We had delays through qualifying yesterday as well, and each time I got back into it, warming up and things like that, I felt great once I got back on the course,” the 29-year-old said.
“It was good because I was able to re-evaluate and sit back and reflect on what could be in first. So, I did make a plan. I did one of the two tricks that I planned to do to step up my run. Unfortunately, my last trick I didn't do, but I was able sit back and re-evaluate to give it a bit of a nudge and make Kieran a bit nervous.
“I was still sitting in third, and in the rain delay, I said to myself, ‘I want to win. I want to win the event. I've got to really go for it.’ And I only went for one of the tricks that I did. So, it's hard to say regret because I did bump up into second place.
“I made that decision in the moment right before the last trick to not do it, because I thought I was too gassed, and I could have crashed it. So, I was stoked enough on the front bike flip, and I was happy to bump up into second place.
“Look, the level of riding now is crazy. So, to still be up there on the podium, it's still a special feeling. It's always a hard task to make it to the podium ... It's always an honour to be here representing Australia and to stand on the podium is always special as well.”
Martin now has two world championship silver medals to accompany his 2021 and 2017 gold medals.
In a rain-marred Elite Women’s final, Hannah Roberts (USA) did enough to collect her fifth rainbow jersey ahead of China pairing Sibei Sun and Huimin Zhou.