REDDITCH cycling star Beth Crumpton has high hopes of building on the “amazing” experience of competing in the women’s cross country mountain biking event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Twenty-year-old Crumpton was one of the youngest competitors in Tuesday’s event on the Cathkin Braes course, which was set in ancient woodland on the city’s south side, but rose to the challenge to finish in ninth place in a 21-strong field.
Crumpton said the course was strength-sapping, but she was pleased overall with her efforts for the England team and believes a place in the Great Britain squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a realistic goal.
After arriving back in England on Wednesday, a bubbly Crumpton told the Standard: “What an amazing experience! Whenever I’ve watched a Games on TV as an athlete I’ve always wondered what goes on beyond the view of competition and now I know and I still can’t quite believe what I have actually achieved to have been able to experience that.
“The athletes’ village is like a rather large all-inclusive holiday park – free food, drinks, laundry service, even a salon. The food hall was huge, with so many tables and chairs and all types of food options. My favourite though was the highland BBQ and smoothie bar!
“Mixing with the team was great. As a mountain bike squad we stuck together as a squad but we were sharing a house with the rest of England Cycling which was predominantly the track squad and and the road later in the week, which was good because the different disciplines are never at one place at one time.”
Crumpton, who just prior to the Games retained her title as national U23 champion with victory at Hopton Woods in Shropshire whilst representing North West Mountain Bike Centre, revealed the course presented a tough test, but had given her invaluable experience.
“The course was fun, not one of the most challenging courses technically, but it raced fast and was a very strength-sapping course. I raced for 1:hr.45 – six minutes down on the winner – six laps of just under 6km a lap.
“I was confident I’d be able to race in the top ten, as I’d trained enough to be able to be there, and I am very happy with ninth, but also slightly disappointed as I felt I probably could’ve achieved better, but at the end of the day that’s bike racing.
“Retaining my U23 national champion crown before Glasgow was a big boost, as it told me my form was coming back to me after missing a lot of training due to my injuries from crashes earlier on in the year. It was great to defend my title, I really wanted to do that.”
Having performed at such an elite level, Crumpton is now eager to showcase her talents at further elite international events. Asked whether she could win a medal at senior international events, she replied.
“I want to of course. My goal is to definitely achieve a medal and I feel I’ll be able to some time in the future. Rio is the goal but as a team we need to first qualify a place or two for riders to be selected to go.”
There is no immediate rest time after Glasgow for Crumpton, who won the British Cross Country Series in May, as she is straight back in action.
She added: “I fly to America on Tuesday for the next round of the World Cup, then it’s flat out for the next month with the National Series finale back here at Cannock, then on to the final World Cup in France before the World Championships in Norway.”
In between these events, Crumpton will continue to live and train in Manchester, where she and her team-mates are based.
“Training has gone well, although with all the racing going on now it’ll be hard to stick any more training blocks in.
“Being in Manchester is good because it helps me focus better than being at home, it’s my job to be here (Manchester) and, with all the support there is available here, it’s hard for things to go wrong.”
Beth (centre) enjoys the surroundings with her parents and sisters. (s)
Beth’s friends were there to cheer her on in England colours. (s)