Beth Shriever is still pinching herself after being crowned world champion at the UCI 2017 BMX World Championships in Rock Hill, South Carolina, towards the end of July. The 18-year-old, competing in the junior women’s class, pipped favourite Saya Sakakaibara right on the line as she staged a stunning comeback to claim the rainbow jersey on the final straight.
Beth, despite enjoying a highly impressive season including five victories in the UEC BMX European Cup, revealed she ‘struggled to comprehend’ what she had achieved on the world stage. The previous year’s World Championships had seen her win silver in the time trial but crash out in the final of the class race in Colombia to finish in eighth position.
Beth, a SportsAid recipient in 2013, 2014 and 2017, has two brothers who race too. Luke is also a current SportsAid athlete was crowned world champion in the Under-13s category in 2016. She recently finished her ‘A’ Levels at Helena Romanes in Great Dunmow and is set to head into part-time work as she looks to follow in the footsteps of her hero Chris Hoy by becoming Olympic champion.
How do you feel when reflecting on becoming the junior champion at the UCI 2017 BMX World Championships? What has the reaction been like since you returned home?
“To be completely honest it still feels so surreal. I have never achieved anything like this in my career so I struggled to comprehend it in my mind - you dream of what it would be like to win the stripes and when it actually happens it doesn't feel real. The reaction from winning the Worlds has been extremely positive and helpful; the funding for us women in BMX has not changed, so I need as much support as I can to get me through next season. I have had more sponsorship offers and opportunities have arisen that will be very beneficial. The support of all of my friends and family has been incredible, seeing everyone so proud and complimentary means so much to me.”
How was the crowd in South Carolina? Did you know that you’d edged it on the line? How did you find the experience compared to your first World Championships?
“The crowd was absolutely incredible - I haven't experienced anything like it. The atmosphere was insane because locals could watch for free. It became so busy and every seat was taken. You would be on top of the start hill ready to go and take a glance up and be mesmerised by how many people were there watching. As soon as I crossed the line I knew I had got it. I was so far behind in second that when I took it on the line the initial reaction I was one of shock. I never thought I could actually catch up and take the win. It was a completely different experience to last time in Colombia - this year there was more of the GB team competing. This was a track I had ridden before so I had a bit more confidence on my side. Also, my whole family was out to watch, so I felt so happy that my they could witness my first ever World Championship win.”
Were you happy with your preparations going into the Championships? What was your approach on race day?
“I was extremely happy with my preparations leading up to the Worlds. I had been racing a lot and making a lot of improvements in the gym and on the track. I wanted to feel like I was at my best when racing in America and that is what I achieved. I could give it all I had knowing I was at my peak. On race day I knew I had a chance of getting on the podium - I kept relaxed and just gave it everything I had. I knew Saya Sakakaibara was the favourite and I didn't get to race her until the final. I stayed relaxed and told myself whatever happens, happens.”
How has the rest of your year gone for you? Are you happy with how you’re progressing?
“It's been my best season to date; I've made numerous semi-finals in the World Cup series (elite level) and even managed to make a World Cup final (in Papendal, Holland) which was a massive achievement for me. I won every single Euro round I raced - barring one as I crashed. Also, I am National champion second year running. Topping it off with winning the Worlds is the obvious stand-out achievement. I am very happy with how I am progressing, I will be moving up to the elite category next year which is going to be tough, but I am aiming to make semi-finals and finals in the process.”
What first interested you about BMX? Does the sport give you that same adrenaline rush as when you started?
“I got into BMX through my brother as his friend's dad was the head coach at Braintree BMX Club. He invited me down to the track one day and the rest is history. The main thing that interested me in the sport was that it was so different to the rest. It gave you a rush like no other and you would learn new things every time you went to the track. I'd say even more so now because I am going from an 8m start hill and jumping jumps I never thought I'd be able to do and getting up to speeds of 30mph.”
What is your ultimate ambition in BMX?
“The ultimate ambition is to be Olympic champion. I hope to compete in at least two. Hopefully in the process I can make numerous World finals and maybe one day get the stripes in elite women.”
What other commitments and interests do you have outside of sport?
“I am going to start going into part time work so that I can still have time to train hard and get prepared for next season. Like any other teenage girl, I love to hang out with my friends and not think about BMX from time to time. I did find it hard when I was studying my ‘A’ Levels and travelling a lot and missing up to two weeks at a time from school. Now it is a bit more manageable because I will be working and my work placement is very understanding with giving me time off to train and compete.”
How much of a difference has SportsAid support made to you?
“They have been very supportive and helped a lot. Financially I am able to travel to and from races with no worries and get extra equipment when needed with no struggle. I do get motivated knowing I have such a highly recognised organisation behind me - it makes me feel humbled knowing I have their full support.”
How important has the support of your family been since you started BMX?
“The support from my family has been beyond what I ever expected of them. Since I started they have taken me to and from training, and they go out of their own pocket to races all over the world. They give me and my two brothers all that we need to do well in the sport. They have made a lot of sacrifices for us - giving up most of their free time for us. As it is only my youngest brother who also competes on the international stage, my dad will take him whilst I go with British Cycling. My mum and other brother stay at home and watch us on a live stream.”
What will you do to #SupportTheNext generation of British sporting heroes? SportsAid needs your help to ensure talented athletes like Beth can continue receiving the backing they rely on. Show your support for #SportsAidWeek 2017 by signing up to get involved today.
PHOTO CREDIT - BETHANY SHRIEVER/UCI