UEL honours Olympic gold medallist Bethany Shriever
14 September 2021
In July, Bethany Shriever became the first and only British person to win an Olympic gold medal in BMX bicycle motocross. This was followed by a gold medal in August at the 2021 BMX World Championships in the Netherlands.
On Tuesday, 14 September, Ms Shriever received an Honorary Doctorate of Sport from the University of East London in recognition of her achievements.
She told students at a graduation ceremony for the University's School of Education and Communities to keep believing in their dreams.
What I achieved hopefully proves to the world that you should keep believing in your dreams. We all have good and bad days. Whatever you want to achieve after today, stick at it, work hard, and it can come."
Bethany Shriever, Olympic BMX gold medallist, said.
Ms Shriever was born in east London in 1999. She is the University of East London’s youngest-ever recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Sport.
Ms Shriever is no stranger to adversity, having overcome a series of challenges that include rising to the top of a male-dominated sport, serious injuries and lack of funding.
After the 2016 Olympics, UK Sport made the decision to stop providing financial help for female BMX competitors. Ms Shriever continued to train and compete on her own with the help of her family and some crowd funding.
She also discovered a passion for working with early years children, taking on a part-time teaching assistant position.
She told UEL graduates, many of whom plan to move into the teaching profession, that, "I know many of you here today will know what I mean when I say that teaching and supporting children to learn and develop gives you an amazing buzz.
"I got to help them with their maths, reading and writing, and of course I started a cycling club at the school to inspire the next generate of BMX riders."
British Cycling launched a women’s BMX funding programme before the 2020 Olympics, and Ms Shriever made the Team GB squad and won the gold medal by nine-hundredths of a second.
She said, "Winning the gold was a life changing moment. When I crossed the line, I was full of excitement and was thinking, 'What has just happened?!'"
The moment provided one of the iconic images of the Games, with Ms Shriever and silver medallist and Team GB teammate Kye Whyte celebrating together on the finish line.
She said, "It was so special to share that moment with him. We’d grown up together and worked so hard for what we wanted to achieve."
Looking ahead to the future, Ms Shriever is focusing on the 2024 Olympics in Paris. She also hopes to inspire more girls and women to get involved in BMX and hopes that more money will be invested in BMX following her success. She said that when she retires from BMX, she plans to pursue a career in early years teaching.
Whether in sport or in teaching, Ms Shriever's future is surely golden.
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