Liam Phillips survives carnage to reach BMX semi-finals

Brit avoids crash to stay in contention for medal today but American Fields remains favourite

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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 Park yesterday.

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

Phillips finished second to Connor Fields in the first three runs to progress with the minimum of fuss behind the American and now the 23-year-old from Burnham-on-Sea is eyeing a place in today's final which will follow on from the semis.

"It's just survival, it's getting to that final," he said yesterday. "Any one of the eight riders that make that final have got a chance to step on the top of the podium. I'm not bothered whether in the semi-finals I scrape through in eighth place. I know if I do that I've got just as good a chance as 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 that hampered his preparation for these Games.

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 the Netherlands advanced with a 100 per cent 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 just look at one rider.

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

Britain's Shanaze Reade, who crashed out of the 2008 Olympic final while attempting a gold-medal-or-bust manoeuvre, also takes part in her semi-final this afternoon in the hope of gaining redemption for Beijing.