BMX: Liam Phillips optimistic of reaching final


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The Independent Online

Great Britain's Liam Phillips set his sights on a final place and a possible medal after advancing to the BMX semi-finals with a strong quarter-final showing on day two of action at the Olympic Velopark.

From the four eight-rider heats, the two best-placed after three of the five runs advanced to the semi-finals, with the next two going through after completing all runs.

Phillips finished second to Connor Fields in the first three runs to advance with the minimum of fuss behind the American and now the 23-year-old from Burnham-on-Sea is eyeing progress to the last eight.

"It's just survival, it's getting to that final," he said.

"Any one of the eight riders that make that final tomorrow have got a chance to step on the top of the podium.

"I'm not bothered whether in the semi-finals tomorrow I scrape through in eighth place.

"I know if I do that I've got just as good a chance has anybody to come away with a medal, so that's the plan."

Phillips finished second to Fields in the time-trial at the BMX World Championships in Birmingham in May, but a day later sustained a fractured collarbone.

He has made a speedy recovery and retained his form and was unaware of the mass pile-up, involving seven riders, in the first run of heat three as a collective audible gasp came from the onlooking supporters.

"The most important thing is to make it to day two," Phillips added.

"It's not straightforward I can assure you, but I enjoyed it.

"I'd say Connor is the favourite coming in to the Olympics. He's a fantastic rider.

"He had the inside (line), and it's hard to beat someone when they've got the inside, but to be up there and be competitive into turn one, I can take a lot of positives from that."

Like Fields, fastest qualifier Raymon van der Biezen of Holland advanced with a 100% record.

"I'm not going to lie, it's quite a big shock," said Phillips of the Dutchman's displays.

"I think he would be the first to admit that he hasn't had the best season by his standards.

"I can't actually recall him making a final; I'm not really sure if he's made a semi-final.

"But that goes out the window when you come into the Olympics. It's one race and the fact he won the time-trial and he won all three motos (runs) he's obviously on form. He'll be there, but you can't look at one rider.

"The 16 guys that make the semis tomorrow will be of equal ability and it will be whoever produces the goods in each race."

Edzus Treimanis of Latvia followed Van der Biezen through to the last 16, with Marc Willers of New Zealand progressing from heat three.

Willers was the only rider to avoid the first-run pile-up, but France's Joris Daudet recovered from his tumble to the tarmac to go through after the third run.

Twan van Gendt of Holland and defending champion Marius Strombergs of Latvia wen through from heat four, with world champion Sam Willoughby of Australia requiring two further runs to reach the semi-finals. Carlos Oquendo Zabala of Colombia followed him through.

Quentin Caleyron of France, Australia's Khalen Young, Andres Jimeze Caicedo of Colombia, Rihards Veide of Latvia, USA's David Herman and Switzerland's Roger Rinderknecht also progressed.

Shanaze Reade was set to ride in the women's semi-finals, as she, like Phillips went in search of a medal.

Reade crashed out of the 2008 Olympic final while attempting a gold-medal-or-bust manoeuvre.