BMX Racer Bethany Shriever Turned to a GoFundMe to Reach Tokyo
When Bethany Shriever won the gold medal in the women’s BMX final, it was in an event where she wasn’t even slated to be a finalist. Last week’s victory was Britain’s first Olympic gold medal in the event.
But it wasn’t just that Shriever, who was racing against reigning two-time Olympic champion Mariana Pajon of Colombia, was an unlikely contender for the final, let alone the gold medal. It’s because without the help of a GoFundMe page she created in 2017, Shriever might not even have reached Tokyo.
“The chances would be very, very, slim,” she said.
Shriever, 22, grew up participating in the UK cycling program, honing her skills in a sport where she was often the only girl on the track – something she took notice of almost instantly, she said.
“I would just train with boys pretty much,” she said. The number of competitors participating in the boys ‘races, especially when competing in larger events, has always far exceeded that of the girls’ races.
Shriever’s defining moment came when she won the junior world title at the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships in Rock Hill, SC. But a few months later, Shriever questioned his future in BMX. In a budget review after the Rio 2016 Games, UK Sport, the government body that invests in Olympic and Paralympic sports in Britain, cut funding for the women’s BMX program and announced it would only fund the male program on his trip to Tokyo.
“It was questioning things like, ‘Why don’t we have the same chances as men?” “Shriever remembers feeling back then. “I wanted to get to the top and be able to make a living doing this. “
So Shriever decided to stay at home in Essex with her family and take a second job as a teaching assistant helping the children. She worked three days a week and headed straight for the track or the gym afterward. “There were nights when I couldn’t put everything into training because I was so exhausted from work,” she said, adding that her employer was flexible with her schedule, giving her half – days or allowing him to be absent for competitions. Her parents took her to the races.
At the start of the Olympic cycle in 2019, Shriever knew that in order to earn enough points to make it to Tokyo, she needed a better solution. She calculated what it would cost to hire a trainer and compete in various races before creating a GoFundMe page for 50,000 pounds, or roughly $ 70,000. She managed to lift almost 20,000 pounds, which she said were used up almost immediately due to two events in Australia.
“This decision opened a lot of eyes to the fact that I needed help and that I had the potential to participate in the Games,” she said of the launch of a GoFundMe.
By mid-summer 2019, Shriever had joined the UK cycling program. She did so with the help of a British Cycling coach and the drive of the program to get UK Sport to reinvest in disciplines whose budgets had been cut.
Shriever won her three rounds in Tokyo and then the final, screaming on her bike as she crossed the finish line. In two weeks, Shriever will be competing for another first place finish at the 2021 UCI BMX World Championships in Papendal, The Netherlands.
Shriever is still the only female on his six-member racing team, which includes Kye Whyte, who won silver in the men’s event and cheered on the sidelines as she made history. In addition to medals from Shriever and Whyte, Charlotte Worthington won gold in the women’s BMX freestyle, an event that made its debut in Tokyo.
Women have come a long way in BMX, said Shriever, with more involvement despite the obstacles they have to overcome to get the same opportunities as men. There is still work to be done, she said, but she has hope for the future.
“We’re going in the right direction for sure,” said Shriever.
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