Cyclist Connie Paraskevin-Young figured she would face Estonia's Erika Salumae, the two-time defending Olympic champion sprinter.
Her thinking, though, was that they would race for the gold medal, not survival.
After losing the women's repechage sprint, the four-time world champion and five-time Olympian from Corona del Mar headed not for the podium but for a goodbye lap around the wooden track at Stone Mountain, Ga.
"I feel pretty empty right now," said Paraskevin-Young, bronze medalist in the sprints at Seoul in 1988.
"It's sad because that is probably the last match sprint race in my 35 years. And you know, that's an addiction, man. It's a long career," she said. "God, I want to still be out there. I want to still train. I still want to do this."
Paraskevin-Young's Olympic career, which began as a speedskater at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, came to a stunning and premature end on another home track, which also claimed sprinter Bill Clay of Indianapolis.
Paraskevin-Young lost to Germany's Annett Neumann and then to Salumae. On her farewell lap, Paraskevin-Young said she was touched by a choked-up fan who yelled, "Thank you, Connie!"
"I'll always remember that. That may very well be my last time on the track," she said.
The track again proved fast. In the women's individual pursuit qualification round, five riders, led by Italy's Antonella Bellutti, beat the Olympic mark of three minutes 41.509 seconds set by Germany's Petra Rossner in 1992.
Bellutti's time was 3:34.130, and American Rebecca Twigg finished fourth in 3:39.849.
In the only medal race, Italy's Andrea Collinelli beat France's Philippe Ermenault for the gold in men's individual pursuit.
Collinelli, who broke the world record twice Wednesday, was clocked in 4 minutes 20.893 seconds.
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MEDALISTS / Cycling
MEN'S INDIVIDUAL PURSUIT
Gold: Andrea Collinelli, Italy
Silver: Philippe Ermenault, France
Bronze: Bradley McGee, Australia