Bethany Shriever made history by becoming the first U.K. BMX rider to win gold at the 2020 Olympics, her first Olympics, thanks in part to her fans.
In 2017, government agency UK Sport announced it would only fund bids for male riders at the Tokyo Games, based on past results. While British Cycling created a financial support package for female competitors, Shriever opted to raise money on her own to cover the cost of hiring a coach and her overall journey to the Olympics, which totaled about £50,000 ($69,500), BBC Sport reported. The now-22-year-old worked part-time as a children’s teaching assistant for two years and received assistance from her parents and crowdfunding donations from fans.
On Friday, July 30, Shriever won gold in the women’s cycling BMX racing final, while defending champion Mariana Pajón of Colombia won silver. After Shriever ditched her bike following her victory, Kye Whyte, who won the silver medal in the men’s event, swept her up in his arms. The two were the only British medalists and are the first BMX riders to ever medal at the Olympics.
“It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she told Sky News. “It’s amazing. It’s getting our sport out there a bit more, I think, especially in Great Britain.”
After her win, scores of people applauded her win virtually on social media. “Bethany Shriever what a ledge,” tweeted former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher. “Well done LG x.”
“That’s absolutely crazy. I can’t believe it,” Shriever said at an Olympics press conference, when asked about Gallagher’s shout-out. “I was like, ‘No way!’ That’s just crazy.”
Watch 2020 Tokyo Olympics coverage every day on NBC and Peacock.