Colombian fans watch as Mariana Pajon of Colombia, background, competes in the women's seeding run at the Olympic BMX Center during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Mariana Pajon of Colombia might have home-continent advantage at the Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
The defending Olympic gold medalist and reigning world champion had a boisterous following in the stands during the women's seeding runs on Wednesday at the Summer Games. Some held yellow, blue and red flags of Colombia high in the air after Pajon put in the fastest lap of 34.508 seconds around the roughly quarter mile-long course.
— UCI BMX Supercross (@UCI_BMX_SX) August 17, 2016
"It's amazing. All the Colombians are here, even the Brazilians. We are just one team," Pajon said. "We are Latin Americans, so it's just good energy, positive energy."
Pajon is a star in Colombia after winning gold in 2012 in London. She already has a BMX track named in her honor back home, where she won the world championship in May.
Mariana Pajon of Colombia competes in the women's seeding run at the Olympic BMX Center during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
"We are just one, so I am happy to be here in Brazil," she said with a bright smile. "It's like home. It's like being in Colombia."
Pajon is a favorite to win gold, though she figures to get stiff competition from a talented field including Buchanan and the United States' Alise Post.