NTC 25
British BMX history made in Tokyo by Beth Shriever and Kye Whyte

British BMX history made in Tokyo by Beth Shriever and Kye Whyte

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Bethany Shriever won the gold medal and Kye Whyte added a silver on an historic day for BMX Racing at the Tokyo Olympics.

Great Britain had never won an Olympic medal at the event until the two young riders stunned the sport with their performances at the Ariake Urban Sports Park.

Shriever, 22, was simply untouchable on a day in which she won all three of her semi-final runs and did likewise in the Final, where she led from start to finish.

Whyte, 21, eased through his semi rounds and rode superbly in the Final, almost overtaking Niek Kimmann of the Netherlands in a thrilling sprint for the line before claiming the silver.

The pair, both making their Olympic debuts, were sensational as they added to the mountain bike cross-country gold medal won by Tom Pidcock at the start of the week.

The longest track in Olympic history, at 495m, meant that endurance factored into the racing in Tokyo, which clearly played into the hands of the GB riders, each of whom recorded the fastest qualifying times in their semi-finals.

The performance of Shriever, from Leytonstone, was even more remarkable given that she held off Colombia’s double Olympic champion Mariana Pajon to win her gold in the Final.

Having earned the right to choose her starting place in qualifying, Shriever opted for gate six and, by the first bern, her phenomenal leg speed saw her open a narrow lead over the pack.

The young Brit rode perfectly and still held a small advantage over Colon at the final jump and just managed to hold off her rival with the Colombian veteran closing fast.

“I had nothing left at the end, it was crazy,” said Shriever. “I gave it absolutely everything I had.

“Honestly, I’m in shock. To even be here is an achievement in itself, to make a final is an achievement in itself and to come away with any medal, let alone gold, is amazing.

“I owe a lot to everyone, it means so much. I’m so grateful for the support of everyone waking up at home. I’m just overwhelmed.”

Whyte, from the famous Peckham BMX Club, had relied on strong finishes throughout his semi-final campaign but, in the Final, flew out of the gate and into an early lead.

He was overtaken by Kimmann before a crash behind them left the pair competing for the first two places.

In a thrilling sprint for the line, the Dutchman just held off Whyte by barely a tenth of a second but the young Londoner’s celebrations as he crossed the finish showed just how much a silver medal meant to him.

“The medal is heavy, my neck is aching,” joked Whyte in an interview after the medal ceremony.

“It means everything to me. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was pretty hard to get to the Olympics in the first place so to do well, or even get a medal, is special.

“I know my little nephew is watching at the Peckham BMX club house, and I can’t imagine how tired they all are watching at home. But I’ve got family I haven’t seen for ages and I can’t wait to see everyone.”

Colombia’s Carlos Alberto Ramirez Yepes took the bronze medal in the men’s race while Merel Smulders of the Netherlands did the same in the women’s event.