Medal hopes in Beijing fade for local Olympian

U.S. Olympic Women
U.S. Olympic Women's Track Cyclist Jennie Reed
— image credit: Courtesy of the United States Olympic Committee

Local olympic cyclist Jennie Reed ended her pursuit of a gold medal last week, placing 7th in the Women's Sprint Cycling at the 2008 Summer Games in China.

According to an official Web site, Reed lost two quarterfinal sprints Aug. 18 to Willy Kanis of the Netherlands inside the Laoshan Velodrome. Kanis out-dueled the Kirkland woman in the best-of-three format with times of 11.94 and 11.76 seconds.

The result qualified Reed instead for a classification race to determine 5th through 8th place, involving all four cyclists competing at the same time.

Olympic Women's Sprint Cycling is a 200-meter long contest that allows the cyclists to build up speed and jockey for position in a rolling start. Athletes can reach speeds of up to 70 kilometers an hour in the final stretch.

The result was part of a disappointing overall performance for the U.S. women's track cycling team, leaving the games with no medals. News reports said Reed was suffering from a minor illness during the competition and also claimed the team created a stir by wearing black masks as they arrived in China.

The local cyclist improved upon her previous Olympic performance in the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece, where she finished 10th.

Kanis lost to eventual gold medal-winner Victoria Pendleton of Great Britain in the next round and failed to reach the podium, finishing fourth. Pendleton, a four-time world sprint champion, set an Olympic record of 10.963 seconds in the event's qualifying heats. The world record of 10.831 was set by Olga Slysuareva of Russia in 1993.

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