Burnham-On-Sea’s Mayor has this week praised the achievements of the town’s former BMX world champion Liam Phillips, who has announced his retirement from the sport after failing to recover from “career ending” injuries.
The 28-year-old cyclist – who is a former pupil of Berrow School and Highbridge’s King Alfred School – injured his hand and wrist in a crash in February.
Liam 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 was run by his parents.
Phillips became world champion in 2013, was a three-time Olympian, crashing out in London and Rio, and won 10 gold medals at the BMX Supercross World Cup.
Burnham’s Mayor, Cllr Bill Hancock, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “What Liam has achieved in this very difficult sport is incredible.”
“What a a great man for local youngsters in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge to look up.”
“He has done so much in the sport and helped to put Burnham and Highbridge on the BMX map as well. We wish him all the best for the future.”
Liam said this week: “I can honestly say that I achieved more throughout my career than I ever thought possible.”
Phillips broke his collarbone 12 weeks before London 2012 and then again eight weeks before Rio 2016.
He said: “Becoming world champion and wearing the rainbow jersey was the proudest 12 months of my career. Winning a home World Cup four years on the bounce and striving to be the best in the world on a daily basis are memories that I’ll always cherish.”
Phillips added that he wanted to continue working in the sport, saying: “I would like to help athletes who have talent but need some guidance to help plan, prepare and shape their programmes.”
“If I’m no longer able to compete myself, it feels right for me to assist others in their quest to achieve their goals.”
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, Liam won all of his races on his way to the rainbow jersey in Auckland, New Zealand.
Liam 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.
In 2016, Liam won the Manchester round of the UCI BMX Supercross world cup for the fourth consecutive year.
At the Rio Olympics, Liam got off to a great start after taking the lead in the first race of the quarter final, but then he collided with Latvia’s Maris Strombergs, the two-time defending champion, and Switzerland’s David Graf, just after the first bend of the track. It put an end to his Olympic dream, pictured below.