Phillips not envious of Reade
Britain's leading male BMX rider Liam Phillips believes it must be difficult for Shanaze Reade to cope with the pressure she is under.
Reade enters this weekend's BMX World Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham as the overwhelming favourite.
A fourth world title, at the age of 23, would only serve to heighten expectations placed on Reade for the London Olympics.
In the indiscriminate, cut and thrust world of BMX, with eight riders vying for position on an undulating track, success is far from guaranteed - as a 19-year-old Reade experienced at the Beijing Games when she crashed out in a gold medal or bust manoeuvre.
"I understand the pressures Shanaze is put under," Phillips said. "It's fantastic she's brought a lot of attention to the sport.
"On the other hand the sport is wide open and anything can happen on any given day, so for one athlete to have so much pressure on her it is difficult."
Phillips, who this week will be bidding to make certain of his Olympic place, does not know whether he would attempt the same do-or-die move as Reade did should he be fortunate enough to be riding for a medal in London.
Getting there, indeed getting to the final at any BMX competition, is far from straightforward.
Phillips added: "It is cut throat. At a World Cup now you have 160 guys sign up to race and everybody does one seeded run and the top 64 go through to racing. The other 100 guys don't get to race.
"We're taking about a second-and-a-half between first and 64th and that's over a 35-second lap."
Speed is something the 23-year-old from Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset has at his disposal and he was recently considered for the track team.
Phillips made the move in part due to frustration at a succession of injuries and to see if he could emulate Beijing Olympic champion Jamie Staff by switching successfully to the velodrome.
Staff's retirement left a hole in Britain's three-man, three-lap team sprint squad in the starting spot ahead of Jason Kenny and Sir Chris Hoy.
Phillips had been a possible solution, following the example of Staff and Reade, who has had success on the track and twice won the team sprint world title with Victoria Pendleton.
He switched to the velodrome, but after six months concentrating on one-lap efforts did not make the necessary gains and returned to the sport he feels most passionate about injury free and rejuvenated.
"It allowed me to spend time off the BMX bike and appreciate the enjoyment I got from it, that perhaps before was overlooked," Phillips said.
"I spent six months on a bike training with some of the best bike riders in the world. It was fantastic."
Phillips will tomorrow ride in the time-trial and on Saturday in the super cross in Birmingham.
Also competing in the men's events are Grant Hill, Curtis Manaton and Tre Whyte, while Reade is joined in the women's events by Abbie Taylor. Kyle Evans is out after dislocating his shoulder in training on the Olympic track.
The London track has been altered since last summer's test events and last week was the one and only opportunity for all nations to experience the track before the Games.
Britain were given the same three-day training window as everyone else, so helmet camera footage and other analysis will now be used for final preparations.
BMX coach Grant White said: "There are a lot of other sports that have been able to utilise the facilities they're going to be competing on.
"For one reason or another BMX haven't been that fortunate, but it's just the way it is."
Liam Phillips is an ambassador for EA7, Armani's performance sports brand.