A GOLD medal winning Olympian has been inspiring students after she was awarded an honorary doctorate degree.

Beth Shriever, 22, made history when she became the first British person to win an Olympic gold medal in BMX bicycle motocross at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in July.

Her ground-breaking achievement was followed by a gold medal in August at the 2021 BMX World Championships in the Netherlands.

But now the Olympian from Finchingfield has received an honorary doctorate.

Beth received the Honorary Doctorate of Sport from the University of East London in recognition of her achievements.

At the graduation ceremony, she inspired and told students part of the University’s School of Education and Communities to keep believing in their dreams.

She said: “What I achieved hopefully proves to the world that you should keep believing in your dreams.

“We all have good and bad days.

“Whatever you want to achieve after today, stick at it, work hard, and it can come.”

During the ceremony, Beth became the university’s youngest ever recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Sport.

Beth overcame a series of challenges to get where she is today which include rising to the top of the sport despite suffering serious injuries and lack of funding.

After the 2016 Olympics, UK Sport decided to stop providing financial help for female BMX competitors.

Beth continued to train and compete on her own with the help of her family and some crowdfunding.

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

She said that when she retires from BMX, she plans to pursue a career in early years teaching.

Speaking to graduates planning a career in teaching, she said: “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 generate of BMX riders.”

British Cycling launched a women’s BMX funding programme before the 2020 Olympics, and Ms Shriever made the Team GB squad and won the gold medal by nine hundredths of a second.

“Winning the gold was a life changing moment,” she said. “When I crossed the line, I was full of excitement and was thinking, ‘What has just happened?’.”

Beth is now focusing on the 2024 Olympics in Paris and hopes to inspire more girls to get involved in BMX and hopes more money will be invested in BMX following her success.