LONDON — On the day he dreamed of winning a medal, Connor Fields dressed in red, white and blue. At the end of his event, the color most prominent in his outfit was bright yellow.
The knee pad was yellow. The white pants had been torn open at the left knee. The red that decorated his shirt was accompanied by the blood that stained his left hand.
Fields did not win a medal in the men's BMX finals Friday. He tangled with another rider and crashed, his dreams of gold dashed within 30 seconds.
"I'm glad that I walked away," Fields said. "Any day you walk away is a good day."
Fields neither cursed his fate nor curled into a ball of tears. No point, really. Get worked up about a day like this one, and success in this sport assuredly will elude you.
Fields, America's top BMX racer, finished first in two of the three semifinal heats earlier Friday. He appeared to be the favorite to win gold in the final, and the public address announcer introduced him to David Beckham and the rest of the crowd: "He's the Luke Skywalker."
Crash in one of the semifinals, and you can get up and scramble into the final. The final, however, is one and done: one spill, and you're done.
One spill, and Fields finished seventh in the eight-man field.
"That's part of BMX," Fields said. "It's not like swimming or track and field, where the fastest guy is going to win because they're the fastest guy. BMX, you not only have to be good, you have to be smart. There's obviously a little bit of luck involved as well.
"That's part of why we love it. It's not always the fastest guy who wins."
Maris Strombergs of Latvia, who built a replica of the London course so he could practice on it at home, won his second consecutive gold medal in the event.
Mariana Pajon of Colombia won gold in the women's BMX. Brooke Crain of Visalia, the only American to qualify for the women's final, finished in last place.
Fields, 19, was refreshingly accountable in recapping his race — started poorly, got trapped in the pack, took a spill. By the time he got up, he already had his mind set on the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The challenge: how to maintain focus once the Olympic adrenaline wears off.
"Every event after this, until Rio, is going to feel like nothing," Fields said.
Fields, in his first Olympics, said he could not sleep all week and could not eat Friday morning, on the day he would race for a medal. Little wonder, then, that he shouted into the stands after the race, trying to catch a friend on the way out.
"Hey, Sean," Fields said. "You want to go eat in the mall?"