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Mountain Biker Kata Blanka Vas Brings Hungary’s Best Olympic Performance in Cycling

Ábrahám Vass 2021.07.27.

Ignoring expectations, and favorites, Hungarian talent Kata Blanka Vas came in fourth in women’s cross- country cycling. The athlete, who is still merely 19 years old, wrote history as she claimed Hungary’s best ever performance in cycling.

Although she started off the race from one of the last positions, she gradually managed to step further up, finding herself in sixth position before the last lap. And she succeeded to make it an even tougher competition, as she overtook two more racers before the finish.

While she managed to surpass even the most optimistic predictions that forecast her in the top 10, she also wrote history as she exceeded Hungary’s previous best performance in cycling, which was a fifth place finish. Her performance is even more outstanding in terms of the cross-country discipline, where András Parti’s 23rd place achieved in Beijing, 2008, had ruled so far.

“It was very difficult,” Kata Blanka Vas told M4 Sport after the race. She added, “I was very nervous because I started from the last row, but luckily I managed to pick the right track. The start went well and although I made a few mistakes afterwards, I felt that the pace I chose was good.”

“It was not the power that was decisive, but the technique,” she said. “The track was very technical and my biggest advantage came from the fact that I could drive in mud. We prayed for rain before the race.”

You could say that this is the greatest achievement of my career so far. I was the youngest and I finished fourth… I can’t believe it…”

Interestingly and surprisingly, Switzerland dominated the podium, claiming all three medals, while Vas has so far had little chance to make it up there. However, she managed to outperform all the favorite French and Dutch, similar to Rio’s champion, Jenny Rissveds, of Sweden.

444.hu additionally noted that cross-country can no longer be regarded as Vas’ main focus in cycling, as lately she prefers road racing.

“History! Thank you for this experience. I can’t even grasp what you did today… You are a humble, sweet role model (…),” Attila Valter (who earlier this year brought another major success to Hungarian cycling: wearing the pink jersey in Giro d’Italia for three days, eventually finishing 14th), wrote on social media after the results.

Featured photo illustration via Kata Blanka Vas’ official Facebook page