Pacific Daily News from Agana Heights, Guam on August 13, 2012 · Page A32
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Pacific Daily News from Agana Heights, Guam · Page A32

Agana Heights, Guam
Issue Date:
Monday, August 13, 2012
Page A32
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SPORTS Monday, August 13, 2012 32 75¢ on Guam By Jojo Santo Tomas Pacific Daily News LONDON — Derek Horton had just taken off on a course he described in one word: crazy. He was unable to master it and was pulled off the course during the race leader’s second lap. Horton’s time was 17 minutes and 57 seconds for the first lap. He was in 47th place among the 50 starters. The race followed the “80-percent rule,” which means that riders who fell behind 80 percent of the leader’s pace were removed from competition. It’s a safety precaution so the leaders have fewer obstacles should they “lap” the rear riders. Horton’s goal was to stay in the race until the end. Guam’s final athlete here at the 2012 Olympic Games was raring to go, having waited more than a month in London for this opportunity. Horton is one of the 50 top riders in the world from 32 countries in the mountain bike cross-country event. “It’s actually good that it’s toward the end. This course is probably the wickedest course that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Utah was fun; even the crazy stuff was fun. This is just ... crazy. It’s extremely intimidating. Even the top riders are still trying to figure out how to get through some sections.” True to his word, many of the bikers took off wearing bandages, covering battle scars earned through the five days of practice allowed on the event course in Hadleigh. Some 20,000 spectators made the two-hour journey to this picturesque town far away from the concrete jungle of central London. But the country hills were not enough for the organizers, who challenged the world’s top riders with their interpretation of a naturally occurring rock garden with twists, turns, berms, shale and surprising obstacles. The start list went by waves of eight riders based on world ranking by the Interna- tional Cycling Union. The first eight included some of the world’s top 10 riders, including No. 1 Nino Schurter, of Switzerland; No. 2 Jaroslav Kulhavy, of the Czech Republic; and No. 3 Julien Absalon, of France. There are seven waves; Horton was in the sixth wave and is ranked No. 424 in the world. Behind him were No. 852 Weisong Tong, of China, and unranked riders from Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand. “If everything comes together and I can race it with confidence, I can do it,” he said. “And if I can get confident enough, it’ll be fun. The focus on this course has gotta be so high. If you’re not at the upper end of your fitness level then it becomes more fear. You try to not second-guess yourself, or you end up mucking it pretty good. With these kind of courses, inches determine your line, and it’s literally hard to walk through those sections. About a dozen riders have crashed already and are bandaged out, but no one’s broken anything yet.” Horton rode a Canondale Flash 29er Carbon, reasonably light at 23 pounds with 20 gears and hydraulic brakes. He gave shout-outs to all his friends, the Guam cycling and triathlon federations, the Guam National Olympic Committee, as well as Frank and Carol Guerrero, Tom Valderama and Jay Shedd. “And a special shout out and thanks to anyone who had a part in me being here,” he said. “I hope to do the island proud.” Horton wraps up Guam’s efforts PHOTOS ONLINE For more updates, Jojo Santo Tomas’Boy Go London column and blog, and other Olympic news, photos and videos, go to www.Guam- Jojo Santo Tomas/Pacific Daily News/ Raring to go: Guam’s Derek Horton gets ready to start the mountain bike cross-country event Saturday at the 2012 London Olympics. He is one of 50 riders in the event.

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