Burnham-On-Sea BMX cyclist Liam Phillips is heading to Rio to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games with high hopes of medal success.
The BMX cyclist – who is a former pupil of Berrow School and Highbridge’s King Alfred School – started cycling in 1994 when he was just five-years-old and spent his younger years training at Burnham’s BMX Club at Apex Park, which is run by his parents.
Since competing in the 2012 Olympic Games, Liam has become World Champion and world number one in the sport, making him one of the favourites to win a medal in Rio. He will be followed closely by many supporters across the Burnham-On-Sea area.
“I have had a very successful four years since London 2012 and have been the most consistent BMX athlete in the world, but BMX is a lottery at the end of the day.”
“You can win every single race and get to the final then make a single mistake.”
“I don’t put huge amounts of pressure on myself – I have had many good days but had many more worse days but ultimately I wan’t to go there and put everything on the line to become Olympic Champion.”
Liam will be aged 31 when the Tokyo Games come around in four years’ time, which he concedes “would be old” for a BMX athlete.
Asked whether Rio will therefore be his last chance to win Olympic gold, he says: “It’s not a far fetched statement. It’s reality I think. My body takes a lot more looking after now than it did five years ago.”
“I actually spend 50 per cent of my time getting treatment and seeing the physios and medical team as I do actually training. Your body can’t take the stresses that we put our bodies under in training but then also the crashes.”
“Whilst I’m still competitive and still capable of winning big races then I’ll race but the minute that isn’t possible I’ll know and my days of competing will be over.”
Back in 2012, at the BMX World Championships Liam won silver, but in the first race of the supercross he crashed and broke his collarbone just ten weeks before the London Olympic Games.
A remarkable recovery followed and he lined up in the final of the men’s BMX competition but halfway round the course his foot unclipped from his pedal and he crashed out of the race.
Despite the injury, Liam believes he wasn’t ready to win gold at London in any case. “There were too many things that I hadn’t achieved in BMX in order to win Olympic gold in London,” he said. “I hadn’t won a world cup, I hadn’t been world champion, I hadn’t won big races that would allow me to be a complete package.
“When everything was said and done when I lined up on that start gate in London I don’t think I was ready to win the Olympics.”
At the 2013 BMX world championships, Phillips won all of his races on his way to the rainbow jersey in Auckland, New Zealand.
Phillips has won back-back time-trial and supercross doubles at the 2013 and 2014 Manchester UCI BMX Supercross World Cups.
A badly-timed undercut by Frenchman Damien Godet saw Philips wiped out in the 1/8 finals as he attempted to defend his world title in 2014. He finished the season on a high though, as he was crowned UCI BMX Supercross World Cup champion, the first British male to win the title.
In 2015, wins in Manchester, Angelholm and Santiago del Estero saw Phillips make history as he became the first man to win back-to-back UCI BMX Supercross World Cup titles.
And this year in 2016, Liam won the Manchester round of the UCI BMX Supercross world cup for the fourth consecutive year.