Olympic BMX: Liam Phillips earns spot in BMX semi-finals

Britain's Liam Phillips ignored the chaos around him to make smooth progress to the semi-finals of the men's BMX competition.

The 23-year-old from Somerset finished safely behind hotly tipped American Connor Fields in the first three runs of their quarter-final heat.

Analysis

"Liam Phillips and Connor Fields are going to be super chuffed with that. They both seem to have found their stride really well. they both seem confident. Liam had three astonishing starts which have put him into the semi-finals."

With the top two from each heat, or "moto", advancing to Friday's semis after three rides, Phillips and Fields were comfortable qualifiers.

The remaining six riders in each of the four heats then had two more runs to decide two more semi-final slots, bringing the total to 16.

Phillips, however, will be delighted to get through without the two extra rides and should also be happy with the pace he showed down the eight-metre starting ramp into the first jump.

He consistently beat Fields to that point, only to see the American pull away thanks to the inside-lane position he earned in Wednesday's qualifying time trial.

The British rider should not be too concerned about that, though. With so many other leading contenders crashing in their heats, this was very much about guaranteeing safe progress.

A huge crash in the first round of the third heat saw seven of the eight riders hit the tarmac at the first corner.

Huge pile-up after BMX crash

"The track is long and it is very hot, so to get through with the minimal amount of effort is very satisfying," said Phillips.

"Connor Fields has the fastest track speed in the world, but I think I proved I'm in great shape."

Having broken his collarbone at the World Championships in May, Phillips knows only too well the importance of making the start line in one piece come Friday.

He said: "I have been on the receiving end of a lot of crashes in my time, but you just have to block those thoughts out. That's BMX!"

Among the other 14 riders joining Fields and Phillips in the last 16 are Wednesday's fastest qualifier, Raymon van der Biezen of the Netherlands, Latvia's reigning Olympic champion Maris Strombergs and Australian world champion Sam Willoughby.