Olympic star's bumpy road to BMX glory: Gold medal-winning hero Beth Shriever

Olympic star's bumpy road to BMX glory: Gold medal-winning hero Beth Shriever
Olympic star's bumpy road to BMX glory: Gold medal-winning hero Beth Shriever

Team GB's BMX gold medallist Beth Shriever's ascent to the top of her sport after a nerve-shredding final marks an extraordinary journey to Tokyo 2020 came having been  forced to raise £50,000 to even get there.

The east Londoner, 22, started the sport on a second hand bike with borrowed kit after her school urged her to 'give it a go' and this morning she became a household name in Britain.

The victory caps a rollercoaster journey for Shriever, who left the GB setup to go solo in 2019 and aimed to raise £50,000 via crowdfunding to enable her to even compete after Team GB decided only to fund male riders. 

And as well as the financial hurdles to overcome, Shriever's path to becoming an Olympian was hampered by eye-watering injuries, breaking the same wrist three times  and suffered a tibia and fibula fracture, which required metal plates to be inserted into her leg – only for the procedure to have to be repeated some 18 months later after another crash. 

Due to Covid-19 Miss Shriever's 'tight family' group of her parents and boyfriend Brynley who were  watching live on Friday morning from their home near Chelmsford in Essex.

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And she was cheered on by her training partner Kye Whyte, who grabbed silver in the race before, leaving her crying tears of joy for her friend as she stood on the start line of the biggest race of her life. 

Great Britain's Bethany Shriever collects her Gold medal for the Cycling BMX Racing at the Ariake Urban Sports Park on the seventh day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Great Britain's Bethany Shriever collects her Gold medal for the Cycling BMX Racing at the Ariake Urban Sports Park on the seventh day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Bethany Shriever with her boyfriend Brynley, who has been a big support to Team GB's BMX star

Bethany Shriever with her boyfriend Brynley, who has been a big support to Team GB's BMX star

Beth is lifted by her friend Kye Whyte, who won silver in the men's BMX the race before

Beth on her bike with her brother at home in Essex, where he sporting life began with a borrowed bike

Beth on her bike with her brother at home in Essex, where he sporting life began with a borrowed bike

Speaking today after getting gold, she said: 'It's a bit mad, I haven't even spoken to my family yet. I can't wait to speak to all them and see how they're feeling. I saw them at the end there getting all emotional and it's just amazing, I can't believe it.

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'I had nothing left at the end. I left it all on the track. Right now, it feels like I'm floating around.'

She added she had prepared mentally for the race.

'I've kept the same mentality, the same process throughout on the track and it's just worked. I didn't let things get to me, I stayed calm. I knew what I had to do and just stuck to my process and it worked, she said.

'I've done a lot of work with my psychologist to be prepared for this because I did struggle a few years ago with my head. I've got a great thing going with him and without him I probably wouldn't be where I am today. When I was watching Kye get that silver I really had to hold that back because I was about to cry.' 

Her mum Kate told BBC Radio 5 Live: 'To win gold is just a dream come true. I think it being quick is quite good, the risks are quite high. We are nervous for her safety, we just want her to get round without coming off.

'It was emotional, there was not a dry eye in the house. She literally put everything into it, she knew there was someone behind her. She gave it absolutely everything she had.

'I think it was all worth it when she got the letter to say she was going to the Olympics. Anything after that was a bonus, she just wanted to race and enjoy the experience. She has loved every minute of it. We all knew no matter what the outcome was we would be 100 percent proud of her.

'The only time [she needed pushing] was after she broke her tibia and fibula twice. Her first session back after the first break, she landed a jump and on impact the metal rod in her leg bent and shattered her leg again.

'A lot of people had written off her at that point, she was a really good rider but to break her leg twice and be out of the game for about 18 months, but she was determined afterwards.

'Although she is the only female on team GB for British BMX the support she has from Kye is just a lovely thing. She has been so happy the last couple of weeks and the whole experience has been so amazing for her'.

Bethany Shriever of Team Great Britain crosses the finish line as she celebrates winning a gold medal ahead of Merel Smulders of Team Netherlands

Bethany Shriever of Team Great Britain crosses the finish line as she celebrates winning a gold medal ahead of Merel Smulders of Team Netherlands

Due to Covid-19 Miss Shriever's 'tight family' group of her parents and boyfriend Brynley who were watching live on Friday morning from their home near Chelmsford in Essex.

Due to Covid-19 Miss Shriever's 'tight family' group of her parents and boyfriend Brynley who were watching live on Friday morning from their home near Chelmsford in Essex.

Due to Covid-19 Miss Shriever's 'tight family' group of her parents and boyfriend Brynley who were watching live on Friday morning from their home near Chelmsford in Essex.

Ms Shriever revealed recently that it was her daughter's school had recommended she 'give BMX a go' at a local club, where they had been loaned equipment.

'We went down on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, borrowed a bike and Beth went round and just absolutely loved it,' she said.

'So we decided at that point we'd just buy a cheap bike and see how it goes, just doing club races.

'She started off on a second hand bike, with a helmet, elbow pads and knee pads, at Braintree and it just sort of snowballed from there.' 

A succession of injuries, the withdrawal of UK Sport funding, a cancelled 'holiday of a lifetime' for her family and the trials of training in lockdown were all erased as the 22-year-old, from Leytonstone, east London, won her race in Tokyo.

She followed compatriot Kye Whyte, who had landed silver in the men's event moments earlier

She followed compatriot Kye Whyte, who had landed silver in the men's event moments earlier

Shriever had collapsed to the ground after her win, crying: 'I can't feel my legs'

Shriever had collapsed to the ground after her win, crying: 'I can't feel my legs'

After even more tension during a 45-minute rain delay before the semi-final, Shriever held off defending champion Mariana Pajon, of Colombia, in a desperate finish in the final to take the gold.

She collapsed on the track in a mixture of triumph and relief before being hoisted aloft by jubilant team-mate Kye Whyte, the 21-year-old who minutes earlier had claimed Britain's first BMX racing Olympic medal with a silver in his event.

Shriever gave Britain its sixth gold medal of the Games, keeping it in sixth place in the medals table, after a silver and bronze in the pool for Duncan Scott and Luke Greenbank, and a bronze for the men's rowing eight.

Her event was watched by her delighted family at home in Essex, who - following a nerve-shredding race - were able to reflect on the gold medallist's long and bumpy ride to Tokyo after she first got on a BMX bike around the age of eight.

'We were screaming at the TV saying 'Keep pedalling! Keep pedalling!'' said Shriever's mother Kate, who watched the race with husband Paul, sons Noah and Luke, and the rider's partner Brynley.

'It was quite tight but it's just amazing that she's done it. We're all over the moon. She's just such a lovely, caring and determined person. She's had so many injuries - it's quite a dangerous sport - so she really deserves this.

'We knew she was relaxed and happy. She seemed really in tune with riding and she loved the track. But with BMX it's anyone's game, and anything can happen.

'It's been a very long night. We were all up at 2am for the semi-final, and then the rain

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