London Spy

British medal hopes: Shanaze Reade (BMX)

London Spy

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Reade competing at the BMX Supercross World Cup at the Olympic VeloPark

A painful Olympic debut in Beijing still haunts Shanaze Reade, who went into the Games four years ago as one of Team GB's favourites for a gold.

Of all the pursuits on two wheels, BMX is the most recent introduction to the Olympic programme, and Reade was determined to pick up the very first women's gold medal in the discipline four years ago.

Heading into the final round, and unwilling to accept a straightforward silver medal, Reade performed a daring 'Hail Mary' manoeuvre that could have snatched gold. However, it did not come off, and the gut-wrenching crash resulted in Reade losing out on a place on the podium.

It was a rare failure in the career of this extraordinary 23-year-old talent from Crewe.

Reade was a two-time gold medal-winner for Great Britain in the team sprint on the track in 2007 and 2008, but over the past three years she has dedicated her training increasingly to her first love, BMX.

She has won the BMX world championship in three of the past four years, and claimed victory in the 2012 Olympics test event despite strong winds and a slippery surface adding to the challenge of competing on a challenging new track.

Reade was considered by many to be a certainty for gold in Beijing, but she has since admitted that the expectation lulled her into thinking she was a "rock star".

Although much has changed since 2008, Reade's win-or-bust approach in Beijing has remained the same, and gold is the only colour of medal she is interested in at London 2012.

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Five Shanaze Reade facts:

She is the daughter of a Jamaican father and Irish mother

As a 17-year-old in 2005, she raced against men in the BMX national series — and finished second in the competition the following year

She raced the 2005 UCI World Championships with a fractured knee, crashing out in the quarter-finals

She has also endured broken metatarsals, wrists, shoulders, ribs, elbows, fingers and the coccyx in her back

Her mentor Bob Field died of cancer the year before the Beijing Olympics. A video played during the funeral showed his message: "Shanaze, I want you to win the Olympics for me. I'll be watching"

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