Published: 16 July 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
Great Britain’s Shanaze Reade is prepared to capitalise on lessons from the 2008 Beijing Games as she aspires to become an Olympic champion in London.
The 23-year-old crashed in the final corner at the Laoshan BMX venue, then aged just 19, in the Games’ inaugural BMX competition. The Cheshire Ghost rider had entered the event on the back of two successive elite women’s world championship titles.
Since then, Reade has picked up a third elite world title in BMX and won last year’s Olympic test event at the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup, although the track in London has since been altered. A crash at the quarters-final stages in Birmingham in May denied her of a fourth world crown but she is now ready to use the disappointment of Beijing to her advantage in the Olympic Park.
“I think it will be huge because this time in 2008 going into the Olympics I was like ‘what is the Olympics about? What’s the village like?’,” Reade said on having already competed in a Games.
“Now you know what everything is like and I’ve just thought of the Olympics as another race now as opposed to what is the Olympics - I think it’s made a huge difference.”
“I don’t see myself as favourite. In 2008 I went in as the world champion and I had won every race I entered in 2008 so then I felt I was going in as favourite but at the moment I’m going in without the UCI jersey on my back, but a little bit as an underdog.
“You know I’ve got promise and things to offer so yeah I don’t see myself as the favourite to win, I see myself as the underdog who’s going to put everything on the line that I can.”
A crucial part of her preparation has not only been then physical but the mental aspect, Reade admits that is impossible to ignore the home Games element but like Beijing believes it can be used in a constructive way if the right perspective is applied.
“Home, not expectation,” Reade responded when asked about what racing in London may bring. “It’s good because the Olympic test event that I raced it was the main reason [I competed] to have the support and that’s what I found - instead of expectation I found it was like a support network.”
With that support and her talents on the bike - vindicated by not only her world titles in BMX but also on the track, where she won team sprint gold with Victoria Pendleton in 2007 and 2008 - thoughts of a medal may have crept into the young but experienced rider’s mind, however it is a scenario she refuses to contemplate.
“I haven’t [thought about winning gold] because I did that in 2008 and I think that contributed to why I made a mistake because I was thinking about the outcome as opposed to the process,” Reade said.
“It’s really important and what I’ve learned from the last Olympics and all the races I’ve done after that is all about the process. If you don’t get the process right the outcome generally won’t be very good. The time that I’ve thought about the outcome and thought about being world champion, that day the outcome wasn’t great so I’m just keeping it all to the process now.”
“There is that element of luck but at the same time I look at my past history and I haven’t, without sounding too big headed, lost too many races. So it is about luck and it has an element of that but every sport has got an element of luck in it.
“I just see it as doing what you’re meant to do in terms of the process.”