Arielle Martin's Olympic dream ends early — again

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 1 2012 10:30 p.m. MDT

Arielle Martin of the USA in action during the Elite Women's Time Trial Superfinal at the BMX Track - Olympic Park on August 19, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Bryn Lennon, Getty Images

If any athlete's experience illustrates how cruel and unfair life can be, it's that of BMX racer Arielle Martin.

For the second time in four years, the 27-year-old Cedar Hills native will be denied her Olympic moment.

Four years ago it was an untimely — and unlikely — crash in the 2008 World Championships that cost her a trip to Beijing. This week it was an injury she sustained the day before she was scheduled to leave for London on Wednesday.

KSL-TV's Tom Kirkland reported that the crash was caused by a bike malfunction during a routine training run where the chain broke on her bike. She was launched up in the air and landed on the handlebars. Kirkland also reported that the crash caused major internal injuries including a level four -- out of five -- liver laceration, broken ribs and a punctured lung.

"She's a lucky little girl," said Lori Martin, Arielle's mom.

Martin was transported to San Diego's Mercy Hospital Tuesday afternoon where she is receiving treatment for her injuries. She is expected to make a full recovery. She was scheduled to begin competing on Aug. 8. Brooke Crain, 19, will take Martin's spot in the competition.

"Arielle has worked extremely hard and was on top form heading into the Olympic Games," explained USA Cycling Vice President of Athletics Jim Miller. "Unfortunately, she suffered an injury during her final training session before leaving for the Games. She certainly would have contributed to our efforts in London and will be missed by the entire squad."

Making Martin's story even more heartbreaking is the fact that she was so determined to contend for a medal she skipped the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Games because she wanted to give herself every advantage possible in chasing her life-long dream.

"I am a little sad," she told the Deseret News in July regarding missing the opening ceremonies celebration, "but it makes sense."

And there are always the closing ceremonies to look forward to, she pointed out, and she will still try to participate in them.

Martin and her family are expecting to be healthy enough in the next few days to fly over and be with her team in England. It would take a lot of convincing to the doctors, but they are at least hoping to make it to participate in the closing ceremonies.

Kirkland reported that Martin requested a blessing by a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as she arrived to the hospital. But the representative who who came was not a 19-year-old missionary, but rather a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder M. Russell Ballard, along with the president of the San Diego Mission, where Elder Ballard was visiting.

Martin is one of four native Utahns competing in the 2012 Games, and she wasn't just a skilled rider, but also one of the team's veteran leaders.

"Arielle is one of the most talented and determined athletes I've ever had the pleasure to work with," said USA Cycling BMX Programs Director Mike King. "Her leadership and character will be missed both on and off the track."

Martin said the crash that ended her first Olympic quest in 2008 was extremely difficult to overcome.

"It was horrible, to be honest," the Lone Peak and BYU alum said in a quick trip home in July. "Looking back, though, it taught me a lot about perseverance. It humbled me, and I am a better rider, a better person and a better athlete for it today, without a doubt. And while it was heartbreaking, it makes it all a little sweeter now."

Martin said the sport has grown significantly since being sanctioned as an Olympic sport, which has made competition much more fierce.

Martin first dreamed of representing the United States in an Olympic Games when she was a child watching the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

"It's overwhelming," she said of realizing a childhood dream to be an Olympian. "The first Olympics I watched were in 1996 in Atlanta, and I remember being completely inspired by the U.S. women's gymnastics team. I said, 'I want to do that. I want to be an Olympian.' "

She was considering a move to track and field, and she even participated in a winter sports recruiting camp at the Utah Olympic Park in 1998-99 as the U.S. prepared for the 2002 Games in Salt Lake.

"But then I heard rumors about BMX being included, and I guess I just got lucky," she said.

email: adonaldson@desnews.com

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