Team GB’s Bethany Shriever has won BMX gold in Tokyo, just moments after Kye Whyte finished second in the men’s race to win the country’s first ever medal in the discipline, introduced to the programme at Beijing 2008.
Shriever, undefeated in her three semi-final runs, got a storming start in the final and led throughout, seeing off a late challenge from Colombia's Marian Pajon. The Dutch ridfer Laura Smulders was third.
Whyte likewise got a strong start and was always in contention for a medal, though he was unable to overhaul Niek Kimmann of the Netherlands, who won gold. The bronze medal went to Colombia’s Carlos Ramirez.
Shriever, from Finchingfield in Essex, said: “Honestly, I’m in shock. To even be here is an achievement in itself. To make a final is another achievement – to come away with a medal, let alone a gold medal, I’m so over the moon.”
The 22-year-old, who did not benefit from UK Sport funding during this Olympic cycle, had to turn to crowdfunding to support herself in the build-up to Tokyo.
“I owe a lot of it to everyone. It just means so much, I’m so grateful for the support, for everyone waking up at home, I’m overwhelmed.
“Results are out of our control so gold isn’t a set goal. It was about keeping to my routine around the track, I managed to hold on and take the win. It’s crazy, actually crazy.
“I was watching Kye and I was almost crying when he got a silver. I had to keep my cool, reset and dig in. I had no legs, I gave it everything I got.
“I had nothing left, the lactic acid. I gave it actually everything I had, and I was rewarded.”
Peckham rider Whyte, who was at the finish line to help Shriever celebrate her victory, said: “He [Kimmann] was the better man on the day.
“I had a flying start but I overjumped the second jump. I would have gone to war with him if we'd both landed smooth but it wasn't to be.
“I was making continuous mistakes but it's a learning curve, it only my first Olympics,” the 21-year-old continued.
“If there was ten more yards, maybe it would have been a gold, I'll accept the silver though. I was telling myself, ‘I'm going to get a medal’.
“I couldn't speak [to my family] I was holding back the tears and it wasn't working. I saw my brother [Tre, former World Championship medallist in the event] and family and all the kids staying up to 5am,” he added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.