Double heartbreak as BMX turns out to be the cruellest sport for Team GB

 

It has the thrills and painful spills – but for Britain BMXing is turning out to be a cruel sport. There was double heartbreak for Team GB last night as both its BMX riders failed to make the podium in the finals of what is a dangerous and compellingly fickle sport.

The Crewe-born rider Shanaze Reade, who famously crashed out of Beijing on the final bend after making a last ditch attempt to snatch gold, will again be pursued by Olympic demons as she limped to sixth place in the final women's race despite storming comfortably through the semis.

Her teammate Liam Phillips suffered a wipe-out: after a promising start flying down the eight-metre-drop ramp he slipped on his peddle, clipped another rider on the second bend, and bounced off the baking Stratford tarmac.

It was an inglorious end for a team who had high hopes of bringing another trophy to the Team GB cabinet. Both fell short at Beijing but over the past four years huge sums of money have been piled into British BMXing in the hopes that Reade and Phillips could bring back gold.

Neither athlete should be judged too harshly: BMX track racing is a frenetic sport that pits eight riders against each other down a 450-metre course filled with nine-foot jumps and steep embankments, and can prove a lottery. A single slip from a rider near the front of the pack can create a multi-bike pile up. The smallest of jump errors sends a rider hurtling over the handlebars. During her career, Reade – whose nan bought her first BMX when she was 10 to keep her out of trouble - has broken a knee, a foot, ribs, an elbow, her coccyx and a hand. Phillips nearly didn’t make it to the London Olympics after a crash earlier this year broke his collarbone.

After just the first four races today, five of the eight riders had been knocked out in a single collision and one Brazilian rider had to be carried away on a spinal board. Both Reade and Phillips managed to avoid the pile-ups and put in a series of fast rides to qualify for the final. But once there Reade was outclassed and Phillips was left sprawled on the track.

BMXing’s pace and carnage have made the sport one of the most popular at London 2012. Much like the beach volleyball at Horseguards parade, it has attracted an enthusiastic, noisy – occasionally drunken – and predominantly young crowd. In between the races a host of DJs and stunt bikers keep the spectators entertained.

Fans love it because BMXing is as much a spectacle as it is a sport. But it can be heartbreaking for the riders who put their bodies on the line.

Reade and Phillips can at least take solace from helping to make BMXing popular once more. Ten years ago there were only five tracks in London and the south east. Now every Olympic borough has a new club. BMXing is something poorer kids from inner city boroughs can do for relatively little expense and the BMX track in Stratford will be reconfigured to become a less challenging track that the public will be able to use.

But Reade, now 23, who grew up on a narrow red-bricked terrace house in Crewe, the daughter of an Irish teenage mother and an absent Jamaican father, was left heartbroken by today's result.

Speaking after the race last night she said she was struggling to come to terms with her loss.

“At the moment I'm pretty emotionless,” she said. “I do not have any emotion in me yet, but I am sure it will sink in. The Games is the biggest platform you can race at and you've just got to give it your best. I just tried to stay focused and do my absolute best, but today it just wasn't good enough.“

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas