Beth Shriever: I’m still the same person – but now I get more respect

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Olympic and world BMX champion Beth Shriever insists her “summer of dreams” last year has not changed her as a person as she looks to build on her success.

Shriever claimed the two biggest titles in her sport in the space of a few weeks last summer as she followed Olympic gold in Tokyo by winning the world champion’s rainbow jersey in Holland in August.

And the 22-year-old’s achievements were recognised at the Laureus Sports Award at the weekend as Shriever was named action sportsperson of the year, having been surprised with the trophy by former Olympic track champion Sir Chris Hoy during a training session in Manchester.

“It was a huge shock but obviously a lovely shock,” Shriever told the PA news agency. “I didn’t realise how massive it was until I watched videos of the gala and talked to people who said it was the Oscars of sport. It’s crazy, I’m very honoured to receive this award.”

Shriever rose to international prominence last July when she won gold in the women’s BMX racing final in Tokyo, held aloft at the finish line by team-mate Kye Whyte who had taken men’s silver just moments before to win Britain’s first Olympic BMX medal.

“It was all unexpected,” she said. “I wanted to go and enjoy the experience of my first Games, but I wasn’t going in saying I want to win or I can win…

“Again at the worlds, I carried the form from Tokyo and just went in with the same mindset of just enjoying it and what will be will be. It was the summer of dreams, pretty much.”

Recognition has not only come at awards ceremonies – Shriever now finds people coming up to her in public to congratulate her on her titles.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Day Seven
Shriever was held aloft by team-mate Kye Whyte after their success in Tokyo (Danny Lawson/PA)

It is a huge change for an athlete who had to fund her own way through part of the previous Olympic cycle, with UK Sport slow to recognise the medal potential in the discipline.

“Me and my boyfriend went for a trip to London and people recognised me on the Tube, which was insane, it’s mad,” she said. “Life’s changed a bit but it’s not changed me as a person.

“I’m still the same person I was before, my friends and family know that as well. I just get respected and maybe listened to a bit more.”

Unable to celebrate her Olympic success until after she had added the world title, Shriever enjoyed a few months off at the end of last year but is now focused on another busy year ahead.

Shriever will aim to defend her rainbow jersey at the world championships in Nantes in late July but also has an eye on the World Cup – the opening round is in Glasgow in late May and there are Olympic qualifying points on the line when it heads to Colombia later in the year.

The shortened window between Games means there is little time to reflect on past glories, but the buzz around the National Cycling Centre says that Shriever is looking even stronger now than she did last year.

“I feel it works pretty well for me, not stopping,” Shriever added. “I had a solid three months off and when I got the end of that I thought, ‘Yeah, I need to get back to it’.

“It’s good to hold form, train hard and just be focused on Paris. I think it’s cool we don’t have to wait a long four years for the next one, it’s really exciting.”

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