Published: 12 July 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
Liam Phillips is adamant he is on course to be in the medal hunt when the London 2012 BMX competition begins on the 8 August.
The 23-year-old British Cycling Podium Programme rider says he has worked himself into a group of ‘six to eight’ who he believes will contend for the medals at the BMX track within the Olympic Park, as three days of competition will reach its zenith on the 10 August.
For Phillips, from Burnham-on-Sea, it is a second Olympic Games after Beijing but one which was has been hampered in the final run-in by a broken collarbone suffered in May’s UCI BMX World Championships in Birmingham.
In spite of that disappointment, which came after a silver medal in the time-trial superfinal and required a titanium plate to be fitted in order to aid his recover, an affable Phillips was optimistic when questioned about his medal chances.
“The best way to describe it in my mind going into competition is the fact you’ve got between six and eight athletes that are genuine medal contenders and if you can put yourself in that group then anyone of the six to eight are going to come out with those three medals.
“In my mind, phase one is the fact that you have to be in that group and then look to be at the top of it. Throughout the year I’ve been that group and heading into the world championships it was a case of moving to the top of that group and I know that the form I had at the world championships was going to be good enough or thereabouts, it’s just looking to get back into that form come the Olympics.”
Phillips will spend the vast amount of his preparation time in the National BMX Centre in Manchester. Athletes were allowed a short three day period of training at the Olympic BMX track - which underwent a transformation after the test event - prior to the world championships but the course will now be off limits until the main spectacle next month.
“It was open to all nations so we certainly haven’t experienced any form of home advantage and got to use any of the facilities outside of that allotted time,” Phillips explained.
“It has been open to all countries and we spent three days there. I love the track, I think it’s great. They have downscaled things a lot since the test event which I think is a good move in my opinion. The test event was too extreme, it was over and above what was expected. This form of BMX is supercross and this was super supercross, it was far too extreme whereas now there is a real race track.
“It’s not going to be follow the leader, there’s lots of room for passing and it should make for great viewing.”
Phillips, who alongside Shanaze Reade makes up Great Britain’ s representation in the competition, would understandably have grabbed the opportunity for additional training time on the course. The team’s training facility in Manchester however, the only permanent indoor BMX course in the world, is a more than satisfactory alternative.
“We go into every race and the track is very different, it is not something we are unfamiliar with. Every time we go to a track it’s totally different and the skill to learn that track is part of the sport.
“We are going to stay here in Manchester - we have the best training facility next door, it’s the only indoor facility in the world that’s permanent. To have that here, it is fantastic.
“It’s perfect to be here and the idea of having things as normal as possible for a major championship is great. Heading into the world championships was like a test run for the Olympics, it was amazing to travel a few hours and be at the world championship and it’ll be like that at the Olympics, it will be different to any other competition we have experienced.”