Published: 14 March 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
May’s UCI BMX World Championships in Birmingham will give a strong indication of the major medal contenders for this summer’s Olympic Games, according to Great Britain’s Liam Phillips.
The world’s best riders will come together from 24-27 May at the National Indoor Arena - 10 weeks before the Games - in a bid to claim a much sought-after rainbow jersey, state their case for an Olympic place and lay down a marker to the opposition.
The championships will also provide precious competition time in front of a home crowd for Great Britain’s riders, who will enjoy the support of 6,000 fans at the London’s Velopark come 8 August. Phillips, a two-time world championship silver medalist, missed last year’s competition due to a period spent on the track. The 23-year-old said: “I think the worlds will be a massive indicator of who is going to be there or thereabouts at the Olympics.
"It’s an opportunity to perform in the UK a couple of months before the Olympics and deal with a home crowd and everything else that goes with competing in the UK and that’s not really anything we’ve dealt with before."
“I think with BMX more so than with track cycling the performances tend to be at 95% all year long and you get one or two big hits out each year where you are at 100%. Where you are at physically doesn’t tend to change much from the first world cup event in March to the last world cup in September and if you look back at the last few seasons the guys who have been going well at the first world cup are still going well at the end of the year.”
Phillips will be hoping home advantage can play its part. When Britain last hosted the championships in 1996 in Brighton, Dale Holmes raced to the first of his two elite men’s world championship titles. “It has to have an impact, there is no way it can’t have an impact,” Phillips admitted.
“It’s in Birmingham, which means straight away we don’t have to travel. Besides that it’s an opportunity to perform in the UK a couple of months before the Olympics and deal with a home crowd and everything else that goes with competing in the UK and that’s not really anything we’ve dealt with before. It should be great to us prior to the Olympics.”
The National Indoor Arena will be the last event in which nations can earn qualification points for London and from an individual perspective riders can stake their claim for selection. With important rounds of the world cup to come before Birmingham, Phillips prefers to focus on each event and maintains selection will come as a by-product of strong performances.
“Since getting back on the BMX my goals and ambitions have been to be a contender on the world scene and I firmly believe that if you do that the whole selection process takes care of itself.”