Olympic BMX champion Beth Shriever treating Paris 2024 as ‘clean slate’

BMX racer Beth Shriever will not think of herself as the defending Olympic champion when she travels to Paris later this month and is determined to treat her second Games as a “clean slate”.

Shriever’s victory in Tokyo three years ago produced one of the enduring images of the Games as she was held aloft on the finishing line by team-mate Kye Whyte, who had taken silver in the men’s race minutes beforehand.

Since becoming Olympic champion, Shriever has twice become world champion and also claimed a European crown, but it has been a long road from Tokyo to Paris.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Day Seven
Beth Shriever is held aloft by team-mate Kye Whyte after her victory at the Tokyo Olympics (Danny Lawson/PA)

Having found so much success so quickly, the 25-year-old had to find new ways to motivate herself. And that includes her approach to Paris.

“(After) achieving all that so early on in my career, I really did have to sit down and look at the bigger picture because I could have retired there and then – world champ, Olympic title all in the same year. So what next?” Shriever said.

“I sat down with my psychologist, my coach, and basically said, ‘Right, what do we want to achieve?’ There were a few things in there like wanting to be the greatest of all time, wanting to get World Cup titles, blah, blah, blah.

“The main thing for me, I think, is just making the most out of being an athlete. It doesn’t last forever. So, making the absolute most of it, giving it my best every single day, and just creating a legacy for the next generation.”

Everything changed for Shriever in 2021. Within weeks of Olympic success she added the world title with victory in Arnhem in the Netherlands. Early the following year she added the European title to become the first BMX racer to hold all three titles at the same time.

UCI Cycling World Championships 2023 – Day Eleven – Glasgow
Beth Shriever won her second world title in Glasgow last year (Tim Goode/PA)

Shriever took a second world title in Glasgow last year, but there have been plenty of setbacks too – including the broken collarbone that ended her hopes of retaining the rainbow jersey at this year’s World Championships in South Carolina in May.

That has helped shape Shriever’s approach to her second Olympics.

“It’s completely different,” she said. “Obviously, this time around, I’ve got all these titles under my belt, which has been crazy.

“I’ve also had injuries along the way that we weren’t too sure on. But going in as defending champion, it’s pretty crazy to be honest.

“I feel like I’m going in with the mentality I’m not necessarily defending it because I’ll always have that gold medal to my name now. I’ll always be a gold medallist. It’s like a clean slate in Paris. It’s anyone’s game.”

That broken collarbone in Rock Hill not only ended her world championships, but also gave Shriever an injury scare in the run in to Paris.

With less than a month to go, Shriever believes she is fully recovered.

“I’m feeling good,” she said. “My prep’s gone really well. I’ve got an amazing team around me who have been helping me with that.

“I think it was a bit of a blessing in disguise – not fully being obsessed with the Games or just focusing on the Games and what’s ahead. I’m focusing on the here and now and, week by week, getting better and focusing on getting stronger and fitter. It’s been really good.

“Not many people know, but four months out from Tokyo I dislocated my shoulder. So it’s like I have been in this situation before. I’ve broken my collarbone three months out and I think it’s been a blessing in disguise.”