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11 August 2012, 08:28
Annie Last is today (Saturday August 11th) seeking success in her first Olympics in the London 2012 cross-country mountain bike event at Hadleigh Farm in Essex.
The 21-year-old from Bakewell, Derbyshire, deferred a place studying medicine at Sheffield University to focus on cycling and became the first British female to qualify for an Olympics in 12 years.
She said: "The first goal was to achieve qualification, now I want to see where I can come in the race.
"My preparation's gone well - I've had a few good results in races recently. I'm excited and it's my first Games.
"When it comes down to the race, all I can do is my best.''
Last missed the test event in order to race elsewhere and achieve ranking points to qualify, but she knows the course well.
She added: "It will be important to get a good start, you want to do that in any race. If you're towards the front, you've got more opportunity for a clean race and not as much chance of someone crashing in front of you.''
Last put her life on hold for cycling and results so far - second in the world at under-23 level in each of the last two years and a place at London 2012 - have vindicated the decision.
"This is something you can only do now,'' she added. "Maybe sometime I'll go back to medicine. Surgery maybe. But I'm loving cycling for now.''
Liam Killeen is set to be part of the 50-strong men's field tomorrow.
Killeen has twice finished in the top 10 at the Olympic Games and is relishing the chance to put those near-misses behind him.
The 30-year-old, from Malvern, said: "You think 'what if?' but under the circumstances I think I achieved pretty decent results.
"In Athens, at my first Games, I was fifth after a bit of a hold up on the first corner, and then in Beijing I was in medal-winning shape but unfortunately had a crash.
"I caught one of the marking posts right at the start of the race, so that set me back.
"But every race is different and I'm going to be vigilant at the start. I feel the last five or six weeks' training has gone very well and now I'm just looking forward to it. Hopefully I will achieve a result I'm happy with.''