Raised in Burnham-on-Sea, Liam Phillips is one of the world’s leading BMX riders, having appeared at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. His first European title arrived in 1999, while in 2013 he was crowned BMX World Champion. This year has again been a hugely successful one for the 26-year-old who became the first rider to win back-to-back BMX World Cup titles when he took a second series win in South Carolina last September and he gets his Olympic campaign underway today.
In this latest edition of his blog, we ask Liam the questions you all want to know.
Find out more about Liam on his Homegrown Heroes profile here
WHAT'S YOUR EARLIEST OLYMPIC MEMORY?
I watched some of Atlanta 1996 but I was only seven years old at the time, so that was too early for me to really remember.
So Sydney 2000 were the Games that really captured my imagination. I spent 95 per cent of my time outdoors, especially during the school holidays.
But that summer I spent a lot of time watching that Olympics on TV. As memories go, that was the first time I was inspired by the Olympics.
Not any specific event but that Olympic Games as a whole was the first time I really thought ‘that’s what I want to be involved with’.
WHAT'S THE STANDOUT MEMORY FROM YOUR OLYMPIC EXPERIENCES SO FAR?
Beijing and London were very different for me. As an athlete I was very different at each of those Olympics.
I was by far the youngest athlete that competed at Beijing, so I had no pressure on me and no real expectations.
I was probably only just inside the top 100 in the world at that point. I was solely there to gain as much experience as possible for London.
Then in London it was obviously a home Olympics but although I had the capability to perform at a high level I hadn’t won a World Championship or a World Cup race at that point.
I didn’t have the same level of pressure I perhaps have now but it has been an upward trajectory since then.
WHO IS YOUR SPORTING HERO AND WHY?
That’s a great question and I’ve got a couple of sporting heroes – Roger Federer and AP McCoy.
They’re both my heroes for the same reason which is they’ve dominated their sports for such a long time. Perhaps AP more so than Federer.
Once you reach the top of a sport it’s quite easy to lose that desire and hunger to remain at the top. So for those guys to have been at the top for such a long time is something I’m in awe of.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST COMPETE IN BMX?
I would have been five years old when I first competed. It’s something quite unique to BMX that you can start racing at that young age.
I just loved racing, I loved lining up against my friends and seeing who could get from point A to point B the fastest.
That’s something that I still love the simplicity of now. Without being too arrogant, I was pretty good as a kid to be fair and would usually beat my friends.
WHAT'S FOR BREAKFAST ON THE MORNING OF A COMPETITION?
It completely depends where I am and what’s on offer really. I’m someone who likes to have a good, healthy, high-protein breakfast with some carbs.
It really depends on where I am but usually if I can get hold of some eggs, that would be on the menu for sure.
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE IF YOU WEREN'T A BMX RACER?
I’m not too sure but I think I would have been involved in sport one way or another. Hopefully competing in another sport or at least involved in some capacity.
I love sport and still watch a lot of sport on TV now. I take great interest in other sports and really enjoy them.
IF YOU COULD COMPETE IN ANOTHER SPORT AT RIO 2016, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Great question. My initial sport was golf because I’m quite a keen golfer but what I love about the Olympics is that it gives sports like BMX a platform on a global stage.
It’s a great way to showcase a sport to the world. So, I would perhaps love to compete in another sport that, a bit like BMX, needs that exposure to gain some traction and get some kids involved.
WHAT'S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'VE BEEN GIVEN?
I think just being told to enjoy what you do is the best piece of advice. For me, that’s what everything has been about – just having fun and doing your best.
A lot of people take life and sport almost too seriously. It’s just sport at the end of the day, you’re not saving lives.
So just go out there and have fun.