Australia’s Caroline Buchanan opened her debut Olympic campaign in brilliant fashion by qualifying the fastest in the seedings run on Day 12.
Buchanan, 21, sped over the 430m course in 38.434 seconds one of only four riders to break the 39 second mark.
Her performance replicated her effort at the world championships in Birmingham in May when she also qualified fastest and was ranked the number one BMX rider in the world.
Second fastest was New Zealand’s Sarah Walker (38.644), in front of Colombia’s Mariana Pajon (38.787), the Colombian flag bearer at these Olympics, and France’s Laetita le Corguille (38.976), who was the silver medallist in Beijing.
Australia’s other representative, Lauren Reynolds, 21, from Bunbury in Western Australia, registered a time of 40.045sec. for ninth ranking overall.
American Brooke Crain was the first casualty of the event, falling heavily before the finish of her run.
The seeding run determines the seeding and gate selection order for the first run of the semi-finals, to be contested on Day 14.
In the women’s semi-finals, riders ranked 1-4 from each heat after three runs qualify for the finals.
Buchanan and Reynolds have been drawn in the same heat, along with le Corguille and Great Britain’s Shanaze Reade.
Australia's world champion Sam Willoughby surprisingly qualified only sixth fastest in the seedings run of the event today, clocking a time of 38.496sec. for the 470m circuit at the open-air BMX venue.
The 20-year-old from Adelaide, who left home at 17 to live in the USA and race professionally, was the fastest of the Aussie contingent behind the flying Raymon van der Biezen of the Netherlands.
The Dutchman was the only rider to break 38sec. today, with a time of 37.779sec., and only has to replicate his performance during the next two days to be very hard to beat for the gold medal.
But racing against an opponent can be daunting, and results can differ greatly.
Second fastest today was Frenchman Joris Daudet (38.221), the silver medallist at the world championships behind Willoughby, and third was another Dutch rider, Twan van Gendt (38.339).
The other Australians in the event, Khalen Young and Brian Kirkham finished 17th and 22ndrespectively after the seedings run with times of 39.304sec. and 39.610sec.
Beijing Olympics gold medallist Maris Stromberg of Latvia was the 11th fastest qualifier today with a time of 38.697sec.
Another Latvian rider, Edzus Treimanis, was also a casualty today, crashing heavily and leaving the track bleeding from a cut above his nose.
Willoughby and Kirkham have drawn to meet in heat four of tomorrow’s quarter finals, which also includes Twan van Gendt and Maris Stromberg.
Young has drawn the opening heat, which includes Raymon van der Biezen, and Treimanis.
Riders ranked 1-2 from each heat after three runs qualify for the semi-finals, while riders ranked 3-4 after five runs also qualify. The others are eliminated.