Burnham-On-Sea’s Liam Phillips produced a sensational performance to become the BMX world champion in Auckland, New Zealand, early on Sunday (July 28th).
The 24-year-old won his first world title by winning every race en route to the final including all three of his preliminary races plus the 1/8, quarter and semi-finals.
The rider from Burnham then maintained his composure and led out the final to earn a ‘rainbow jersey’ and was visibly emotional as the reality of his achievement sunk in.
“Apart from 2011, I’ve been to every worlds since 1996 when I was a kid,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve won.”
“We knew it would be tight and planned for this. I knew my form was quite good when I won the Manchester World Cup, but then I made mistakes at the next two world cups in Europe. I just wanted to keep the mistakes to a minimum and I managed that.”
British Cycling Olympic BMX coach Grant White added: “It’s phenomenal and he’d done the work. Once you’ve done the work you’re prepared and you can sit there with a bit of confidence.”
“He’d done the work to be successful and that’s over a long period of time, that’s not over the last few months , that’s over the last couple of years. He knew he’d had a great preparation over the last 12 months and he delivered.”
“It’s a culmination of everything, we knew he was in the best shape of his life and he came here and delivered . It’s unbelievable, fantastic.”
“This year he knows he’s capable and he’s got the package. He put it all together.”
Phillips, who finished sixth in Saturday’s time trial, made super progress through the preliminary ‘moto’ heats with three convincing victories and continued the pattern in the knockout rounds.
Defending champion Sam Willoughby and time trial winner Connor Fields left in the same quarter final heat as two-time Olympic champion Maris Strombergs, who also failed to progress to the semi finals.
Liam had no such difficulties leading out his quarter final and was equally as strong in winning his semi final heat. In the final a powerful start again gave Phillips the initiative and he maintained his composure to lead out the race and earn a prestigious rainbow jersey, finishing ahead of New Zealand’s Marc Willers and Germany’s Luis Brethauer.