Olympic gold medallist receives honorary doctorate from UEL

BMX star Bethany Shriever with her Tokyo 2020 Olympics gold medal.

BMX star and honorary doctorate of sport recipient Bethany Shriever with her Tokyo 2020 gold medal. - Credit: University of East London

A Tokyo 2020 Olympics gold medallist has been awarded an honorary doctorate of sport by the University of East London (UEL).

Bethany Shriever became the first and only Brit to win Olympic gold in BMX racing in July, before triumphing at the World Championships in the Netherlands in August.

In recognition of her achievements, Bethany was honoured by the university on September 14, where she had inspiring words for students at a graduation ceremony for UEL’s School of Education and Communities.

“What I achieved hopefully proves to the world that you should keep believing in your dreams,” she said.

“We all have good and bad days. Whatever you want to achieve after today, stick at it, work hard, and it can come.”

Bethany, 22, from Leytonstone, is UEL’s youngest-ever recipient of an honorary doctorate of sport. 

After the 2016 Olympics, UK Sport stopped providing financial help for female BMX competitors, but Bethany continued to train and compete on her own with the help of her family and some crowdfunding.

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She also discovered a passion for working with early years children, taking on a part-time teaching assistant position.

Bethany told the UEL graduates: “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 generation of BMX riders.”

British Cycling launched a women’s BMX funding programme before the 2020 Olympics.

Bethany made the Team GB squad and won the women’s BMX racing gold medal by nine-hundredths of a second. 

“Winning the gold was a life changing moment,” she said.

It produced one of the iconic images of the Games, with Bethany celebrating with men’s silver medallist and Team GB teammate Kye Whyte 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.”