Published: 28 May 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
British Cycling Olympic BMX Coach Grant White has backed Shanaze Reade and Liam Phillips to come back stronger after a weekend of highs and lows at the UCI BMX World Championships in Birmingham.
The Great Britain duo both won silver medals in Friday’s time-trials – a career best result for 23-year-old Phillips – setting them up in a strong position for Saturday’s elite competition. However any world title hopes were cut short as Phillips broke his collarbone after a heavy fall when leading the opening moto whilst Reade fell in the quarter-finals, slipping on the first corner.
The pair weren’t alone with a number of collisions and falls ending many people’s championships hopes – the USA’s Connor Fields, who won the elite men’s time-trial Superfinal the previous night, exited in the quarter-finals after running off the course in the penultimate corner.
With less than 11 weeks until the Olympic BMX event starts on the 8 August, White praised the performances of both riders in what is their last competitive outing before the Games - highlighting that crashes and falls were a regular, if unfortunate, part of the sport.
“She [Reade] got second in the time-trial and up to [the crash] she had set the fastest lap of the day for the elite women. It’s our sport, in a way we get used to it. She’s going well, there’s 11 weeks between the worlds and Olympics and she didn’t get a result but she’s going fast.
“We saw from Beijing that there was so many crashes and so many people were injured. The margins between each rider, there’s centimetres and you’ve only got to make a jump slightly wrong here or there.”
“I don’t think anyone would enjoy going into the first corner at 50kmph and sliding off on the tarmac. She’s got such a strong mindset and she’ll take it in her stride. You can’t ride reserved in our sport, it’s just the way it is. Shanaze has raced for 13-14 years and any BMX athlete that has raced for that period of time has had so many crashes as it comes with the territory.
“We saw from Beijing that there was so many crashes and so many people were injured. It is our sport and with the development of the athletes they’re going faster and faster and going off eight metre start ramps [travelling at] 63kmph at the bottom. The margins between each rider, there’s centimetres and you’ve only got to make a jump slightly wrong here or there.”
On Phillips, who was competing in his first world championships for two years after spending time on the track in 2011, White added: “He’s in the form of his life and he showed he’s one of the fastest guys in the world. He’s was on an upward curve. In Norway six weeks ago, he had massive performances all through that race then stepped up his training performances in the six weeks between there and here. [After] second in the time-trial, his practise went exceptional here - he was on for a great result.”
Three-time world champion Reade avoided any serious injury in the NIA, but had suffered a setback during training in the build-up to the competition, ruling her out of a week’s training.
“That’s not the ideal preparation, you wouldn’t write that in - to miss out a week of training and a major injury she had to overcome - so obviously that had affected her performance here. So to perform like she did having gone through that it shows the size of the champion she is and how good she is,” said White, who was commenting after Saturday’s racing.
“We’d like to have a nice clean preparation for the Olympics and you’d like to think that if you do she is in a better position but at the end of the day she slipped and fell, she’s one of the quickest girls here, she proved that last night and she had proved it so far today.”