Despite a knee ligament injury and racing in a sport she had given up until last year, Kirkland’s Jill Kintner now has a bronze medal to match her mettle.
According to results posted at an official Web site, Kintner won bronze August 21 in the debut Women’s BMX cycling event at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. She finished third in the race behind gold-medal winner Anne-Caroline Chausson and silver medalist Laetitia le Corguille of France.
The event’s final race for medals was postponed due to torrential rain and then featured a dramatic crash the following day in the final turn. Avoiding the crash, Kintner, 26, raced to the podium a fraction of a second ahead of New Zealander Sarah Walker.
Kintner is well-known in “off-road” cycling circles, but not in the event she medalled in. A Rebels soccer player and 1999 Juanita High School graduate, Kintner was also a junior BMX champ until she switched over to “four-cross” mountain bike racing. Since then, she’s travelled from the Puget Sound to race events around the world, collecting four championship titles in her sport before U.S. Olympic coaches coaxed her to return to BMX racing.
The day after collecting her medal, Kintner thanked teammates and coaches, boyfriend Bryn Atkinson and mother, Jan, on a personal blog.
Reflecting on her medal, she remembered her father Peter who passed away in 2006.
“I’m very happy to be able to give something back to everyone who has supported me along the way,” she wrote. “(I) (t)hink my dad was shining down on me today.”
Kintner was one of two cyclists with local connections to reach the final rounds of Olympic competition in Beijing.
Local cycle track racer Jennie Reed placed 7th in the Women’s Sprint Cycling event after being eliminated from medals contention earlier in the week.
She 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.
Eventual gold medal winner Victoria Pendleton 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.
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.
Reed, 30, improved upon her previous Olympic performance in the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece, where she finished 10th.