London 2012: Annie Last secures GB mountain bike place

British mountain-biker Annie Last has secured a place at the Olympic Games with a top-10 finish at the World Cup event in France on Sunday.

The 21-year-old from Bakewell finished eighth in La Bresse, ensuring she will be GB's first female mountain-biker to compete at an Olympics since 2000.

Last will be the only GB rider in the mountain-bike discipline this summer.

"It was a really tough race, but I was really pleased to do so well in my last qualifier," said Last.

"It's great that now that box is ticked, I can focus on preparing for the Games."

The rankings will be confirmed on Wednesday and the official Team GB selection announced on 13 June.

Last falls into the under-23 racing category but opted to race in the women's elite World Cup events throughout the two-year qualification process for the Games.

Did you know?

  • Annie Last won silver in the under-23 class at the 2010 Worlds and was British senior champion in 2011
  • She deferred a university place studying medicine to pursue a career as an athlete
  • Last started cycling after she agreed with her brother that if he would ride a horse, she would enter a cyclo-cross race

While other nations have had up to three riders scoring qualification points, Last has shouldered the burden of qualifying an Olympic place for Great Britain.

"Instead of being able to pick some races that I want to train for, I've had to just race lots," she said.

"It's good to get plenty of race experience, but it's meant that when I might be better to have a weekend off, I've been travelling around chasing points."

Last has had her best season to date, with three top-10 World Cup finishes and, more significantly, a recent victory in the new women's World Cup Eliminator event in Belgium.

"It was the first time I've stood at the top of a world-class podium and had the national anthem played. I guess that gives you a taste of what you can achieve and so it gives you a confidence boost going forward."

Last was just 19 when her Olympic qualification process began, so reaching London 2012 did not always feel like a possibility.

"Three years ago, I wasn't really thinking about making it to the Olympics. Now, I want to do everything I can to be in my best shape for the Games, so I'll be able to do my country proud."

Last is hoping that representing her country on the purpose-built Hadleigh Farm course this summer will give her the chance to prove how challenging the sport really is.

"I guess the Olympics is a chance for more people to see what the sport is all about, and hopefully they'll be inspired to have a go or see more races."