Team GB’s Beth Shriever and Kye Whyte made history in the BMX racing finals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, taking the first ever medals in the discipline for the nation.
Both riders had comfortably made it through the quarter-finals earlier this week, setting them up with a chance at medals on the final day of racing on Friday (July 30), which started with the semi-final races.
Shriever, 22, from Finchingfield in Essex, won all three of her races in the semis at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo, setting her up as the clear favourite for gold in the women’s finals, which followed just 30 minutes later.
Meanwhile Whyte, from Peckham in south London, finished second in all three of his qualifying races to make the finals, but was unable to topple Dutchman Niek Kimman in the semi-final races.
Heading into the finals, it was the men’s event up first, and Whyte got a fantastic start from the gate to keep him in the medal contention, but after overshooting a landing on the first straight, Kimman once again began to pull ahead.
Kimman and Whyte began to pulled ahead of the competition on the middle section of the course, with the Brit beginning to close down his rival on the final straight.
But by that point, Kimman had done enough to secure the gold medal with a time of 39.053, while Whyte was a tenth of a second behind but utterly delighted to claim the silver medal spot. Colombia’s Carlos Alberto Ramirez Yepes took the bronze.
Then 10 minutes later the women’s medals were decide. Shriever had a fantastic start from the gate and immediately began to pull ahead on the first straight.
By the middle section of the course she had only extended her advantage, but into the final turn Colombia’s Mariana Pajon had pulled level.
Across the line however Shriever carried her speed and crossed the line to take the gold medal, with a time of 44.358 seconds, a tenth of a second ahead of Pajon in the silver medal position. Merel Smulders from the Netherlands took the final medal place.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics, BMX Racing women’s final
1.Bethan Shriever (GBr), in 44.358
2. Mariana Pajon (Col), in 44.448
3. Merel Smulders (Ned), in 44.721
Tokyo 2020 Olympics, BMX Racing men’s final
1. Niek Kimman (Ned), in 39.053
2. Kye Whyte (GBr), in 39.167
3. Carlos Ramirez (Col), in 40.572
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