Bestwick wins BMX Vert

Updated: July 30, 2011, 4:34 PM ET
By Devon O'Neil | ESPN.com

Jamie Bestwick won his fifth straight gold medal and eighth overall in BMX Vert on Friday, narrowly defeating Steve McCann in a wild, can-you-top-this final that featured a number of rarely seen tricks landed in succession.

Bestwick won with a two-run score of 92 points, two better than McCann's 90-point, silver-medal effort. He clinched gold with a 47-point run moments after McCann landed the second no-handed 900 in BMX competition history. Vince Byron, who took silver to McCann in Thursday night's dramatic Big Air final, claimed bronze Friday thanks to a 540 double tailwhip.

"The four-peat, or five-peat, when you get there, it's an awesome feeling," Bestwick said, "but for me, the best feeling is riding against the best guys in the world. The medals, they're great, but this moment -- I'll never forget this moment because there were so many good things about today that will stay with me for the rest of my life."

Bestwick's eighth gold medal in Vert (and 10th Vert medal overall, the first of which he won 15 years ago) comes six months after a gruesome crash near his home in Pennsylvania fractured his skull and shattered both eye sockets. That might have been easier to overcome were the jovial Brit still a pup, but he turned 40 earlier this month and is two decades removed from his first world championship.

Joshua Duplechian/ESPN This win brings Bestwick's X Games gold count to eight.

In overcoming McCann's upset bid, Bestwick proved he remains the closest thing action sports has to a sure thing. He has completed multiple seasons without losing a contest and routinely finishes 10 points higher than his nearest competitor on a 100-point scale. But the rest of the field was much closer Friday night, despite a pair of hard crashes that forced Simon Tabron and Jimmy Walker to pull out of the final halfway through. Bestwick relished his win after the way the final transpired.

"I think today was the perfect day," he said. "You have new guys coming through, doing amazing things, and we've got guys that have been around forever, stepping up to the mark. And that's what we need."

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Devon O'Neil

Writer, Action Sports
O'Neil was raised in the Virgin Islands before dropping anchor to ski, write, and combine the two for profit. He now lives in Breckenridge, Colo.