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London Calling: BMX Racing with Shanaze Reade

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Andy Dill | 10:48 UK time, Thursday, 29 March 2012


GB BMX rider Shanaze Reade surges through the air


By Steve Parry:

At Beijing 2008, Britain's gold-medal favourite Shanaze Reade crashed out of her Olympic BMX final. "In a matter of seconds my Olympic dream was over," she told me.

She even thought of quitting the sport afterwards. "I didn't want to do BMX. But then I saw my grandad come home from work miserable and realised I never felt that from BMX. "But if I was to say I got over it quickly, then I'd be lying."

There are plenty of other Olympic sports where, if you don't win the gold, you at least don't end up literally lying in the dirt with everyone else flying past you.

In those other sports, you might simply reach the finish a little later, having not had quite the speed you needed to win. Shanaze? She was on the dirt, battered and bruised having injured herself in the process, and that's nothing to how she must have been feeling emotionally.

She learned some lessons in the most public of arenas.

"It was one of the hardest things I've faced in my career," she recalled. "I was in complete shock because I'd won the world title just three months previously."

Three times Reade, from Crewe, has won BMX world titles - she also has two world team sprint golds on the track to her name. This year, she gets two bites at a home event: the forthcoming BMX World Championships in Birmingham and then the London Olympics.

"Not every athlete from other countries get to have a dry run [in their own country] before the Olympics.

"I get to have my family and friends there and test out the atmosphere. Because it's indoors there'll be a roar around the arena."

Reade is aware that she is the best in the world at what she does, but she is no longer taking anything for granted. Elements of naivety crept in during 2008 - she was clearly expected by everyone else to win the gold medal and looked like she went in too aggressively with her ride.

I don't think she's going to make any of those mistakes again this year.

"Even in the week leading up [to a big race], I don't think about winning," she said. "I think of the process, each part of the track. If I get through that then the results take care of themselves. I don't go in wanting to win, but to do the best I can."

In spite of that, it is obvious to see how keen she is to win at the Olympics. But she also comes across as a warm, intriguing person who has developed her focus and learned a lot.

We spoke at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. The velodrome there has always had an aura, since track cycling has been so successful, and one of the most important things they have recently added is this shed - a huge shed, a very expensive shed, but a shed all the same - in which there is a new BMX track.

It really is quite daunting when you walk in and the first thing you realise is, if you thought a BMX track was just a few little mounds and a ramp, the sheer size is absolutely unbelievable.

I had a go while I was there. As a swimmer, I was an aerobic athlete - I've put on a bit of weight, granted, but you have got to permanently put pressure on your arms and legs in order to stay on. I couldn't believe how physical it was.

And that was without going down the massive start ramp to pick up ridiculous amounts of speed. I got really excited about BMX while I was there. Track cycling is great, road cycling is fantastic, but I think BMX will be one of the big winners at London 2012.

It has all the music (who's allowed to pick their own tune to race to in any other event?), two British contenders in Reade and Liam Phillips, and a lot of kids are going to get on to that this summer.

When I had the right mindset going into a big event, I always achieved. When I had doubts and fears, I fell short. I think a lot of British athletes will experience that for themselves at their home Olympics.

But if I could be so bold, from what I picked up from Shanaze, she is in exactly the right headspace. I back her to get the medal.

Steve Parry is a 

You can hear the full interview with Shanaze Reade in London Calling on Thursday at 7.30pm on 5 live Sport. 


  • Comment number 1.

    Will, i sincerly apologise in advance for going off-topic but there is no where else to ask this, it seems from looking at the schedules that 5live have not got the rights to the 2nd leg tie involving Chelsea, is this true?

    Also last season 5live covered a couple of non british ties, with that in mind will 5live be covering Baracelona vs Milan tommorow? I am sure you will agree it is a mouthwatering prospect.

  • Comment number 2.

    you have your answer.....no, nothing, not interested in you

  • Comment number 3.

    W2M for once i agree with you, getting Will or 1 of his entourage to answer Questions is like trying to get the PM to speak to me,it aint gonna happen!!

  • Comment number 4.

    I would quite like the idea of Five Live doing a neutral semi-final leg if there is no other football worth covering in Britian but last night was an excellent Sport on 5 with the classic boxing chat and previews of the Masters and World Track Cycling championships, much better than football commentary. The plus side of british football clubs not doing so well in europe this season has meant some excellent shows without live football recently.

  • Comment number 5.

    I heard the piece about Shanaze and she sounds like a determined and hard working person who will hopefully achieve the success she deserves.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have to disagree David, live Sport should always take priority, especially top level sport, Bayern vs Real Madrid 1st Leg, is scheduled for Tuesday 17th April, imo 5live should be covering this, what is the difference from last season when 5live covered non british ties?

  • Comment number 7.

    Obviously last season the ratings were poor for non British ties.An obsession with ratings for 5live programmes is all the controller is concerned about and not what you or other listeners may want.

  • Comment number 8.

    "ratings were poor" your evidence is?

  • Comment number 9.

    You will just have to face it Fed ,you won't be getting wall to wall live football coverage on 5live any longer. A) because the Trust has told them to beef up the minority sports and B) the BBC/5live sports budget is not what it was.I should imagine that UK football with more interest for listeners takes priority over everything else.

  • Comment number 10.

    Cricket,Cycling,Rugby,Golf,The Boat Race,Basball all live over the Easter Weekend what more does the Trust want.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think they mean that they want more volleyball on the 5live.....

  • Comment number 12.

    Volleyball!!!! Put Volleyball on 5live and they will be lucky to get 100 listeners, surely the Trust are not saying we want ALL minority events covered on 5live regardless how many listeners they get, thats just stupid, how is it proportionate sending commentators, technical people etc to an event which attracts tiny numbers of people, no logic.


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