Liam Phillips: Britain set for more world BMX success

By Saj ChowdhuryBBC Sport
Archive: Liam Phillips wins BMX world title in 2013

Liam Phillips believes Great Britain will soon become a force in BMX racing, having clinched his first world title in Auckland on Sunday.

He won every race at the World Championships en route to the final where he edged out New Zealand's Marc Willers to triumph.

"We've got everything to produce the best BMX riders in the world," he said.

"It won't be long before the young academy guys will be competing for world and Olympic medals."

Somerset rider Phillips added that he was optimistic about the long-term future of the sport in Britain, which has already produced a three-time world champion in Shanaze Reade.

"We've seen numbers double at grassroots level during the cycle from Beijing to London," he continued.

"I expect that to continue from now to Rio. At the elite end, we've got great academy riders coming through."

Like the young hopefuls, Phillips has benefitted from the financial support from UK Sport awarded to elite-level athletes and from the creation of new facilities in the past decade, in particular the National BMX Centre, where he trains.

The £24m facility in Manchester was opened to the public in 2011 and has been used as a training-base for British riders.

"We're lucky to have a world-class training facility and without the support of coach Grant White and several others this wouldn't be possible," he added.

National BMX Centre
National BMX Centre opened in 2011

Phillips won several British and European titles early on in his career before joining the Olympic Academy Programme in 2005.

He made the quarter-finals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and achieved his first World Cup podium two years later.

In 2012, he won time trial silver at the World Championships before breaking his collarbone just over two months before the Olympics.

"It happened 10 weeks before the Games, but I got back in one piece," said Phillips. "I was in good form before London 2012 and was pleased how I raced there."

Phillips reached the Olympic final but crashed out of the race. He said that even if a rider entered a competition as favourite, the "unpredictable" nature of the sport meant that success was still hard to achieve.

Phillips crashes out of Olympic final

"Since that race, this has been in the forefront of my mind," he added.

"The Worlds are always the biggest outside the Olympics and I had this as a key goal. To come here and deliver... it's my best-ever performance.

"I've worked towards this for such a long time. To finally win a rainbow jersey at the World Championships is amazing."

The Manchester-based cyclist said he was focused on realising another major ambition.

"I'll be 27 in 2016 for the Rio Olympics and it'll be the back-end of my career. Hopefully I can go there and make amends for London."

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