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Great Britain’s Liam Phillips was proud of his performance and vowed to come back stronger for the Rio Olympic Games after crashing out in the men’s BMX final in London.
The 23-year-old started superbly - as he had done in the semi-final heats earlier in the afternoon – and was in medal contention coming into the first corner. In the second straight, however, he unclipped on a jump, eventually losing control and hurtling to the floor as Latvia’s Maris Strombergs went on to defend the Olympic title he won in Beijing.
British Cycling Podium Programme rider Phillips eventually dusted himself down and completed the course to an ovation from the 6,000 strong crowd before reflecting on the privilege of being able to compete in a home Olympics and making the final – a feat in itself given his participation in the Games was in doubt following a broken collarbone sustained at May’s UCI BMX World Championships.
“I overshot the second jump, I think the first jump (as well). I came out of that gate so fast,” Phillips said.
“To go into the first turn right at the front, on the step-ups Sam Willoughby sort of changed which way he was going and I thought I was going to crash then but I managed to unclip and stay up but you can’t compete with those guys if you make a mistake like that.
“I’m speechless at the sort of reception both Shanaze and I have had, I feel honoured to have had an extra day’s racing so I could experience this."
“It’s a bitter disappointment to be right there coming out of the first turn in a podium spot but I’m pleased. Ten weeks ago I was having surgery on my shoulder – broken collarbone, broken shoulder blade, ribs and you know I have sort of defied expectation to be here, let alone be a contender.”
Earlier, Phillips had comfortably qualified through the semi-finals. A second, third and fourth finish over the three heats enough to make the last eight, drawing gate six for the medal ride which he started in empathic fashion much to gratification of the home fans.
It sustained the consistent rides he had produced in Thursday’s quarter-finals but unfortunately in the final it was not to be but he made time to thank the home support which had spurred him on through the three-day competition.
“I’m speechless at the sort of reception both Shanaze and I have had, I feel honoured to have had an extra day’s racing so I could experience this, they’ve been fantastic,” Phillips said.
“I said yesterday that if you gave 6,000 tickets away and there was people here that’s one thing but 6,000 here have put their hands in their pockets to watch a sport that I have involved in since I was five years old and it really is special.”
"I'd like to think everyone here will be proud of the way I rode, I'm certainly proud and we'll go again in four years' time. I thoroughly enjoyed the competition. It was everything I thought it would be."
In the women’s final, Shanaze Reade finished sixth as Mariana Pajon of Columbia was crowned Olympic champion.