Sports Gazette

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BMX World Silver medallist Emily Hutt opens up about the hardest year of her career

At just 18 years old, Emily Hutt finished her final college exam and hopped on the next train to her new home, British Cycling HQ, and a career as a full-time BMX racer. But months later this dream-come-true turned into a reoccurring nightmare.

Born into a family of bike lovers, with an older brother and younger sister competing at elite level too, one could say she was destined for a life in cycling.

It was no surprise that from the age of three, the seven-time British Champion was sprinting down the start hills of Runnymede and Hayes BMX racetracks near her home town Ashford.

The first taste of competition arrived aged four at an under six event. Then, as the medals piled up, so did an appetite for winning and a life in Manchester.

“I love it. I like to win. I am competitive,” said the now 19-year-old Hutt.

Headshot of Emily Hutt in British Cycling uniform
Credit: SWPix

Not even breaking both her wrists three months prior could threaten her decision to move away from home for BMX in January 2023.

It was a natural progression for Hutt, now training full-time alongside her close friend and Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medallist Beth Shriever.

“It is all I’ve ever wanted to do, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I enjoy it so much,” she said.

However, nothing could have prepared her for her toughest test yet.

In March, in her first major race of the year and only a day after a solid fourth-place finish, Hutt crashed. She suffered a concussion which forced her out of several races for five weeks.

Once recovered, Hutt set expectations to win at the UEC BMX European Cup in Latvia.

“I wanted a confidence boost. It was not going bad, just not as good as I wanted. I wanted to win, and I got second.

“I had never experienced a concussion in racing,” she said.

“I knew I hadn’t trained, but I didn’t really take it in,” said Hutt who, while fully understanding the seriousness of brain injuries, nonetheless found it challenging to adjust to the reality of the injury.

BMX racers racing over a hill on the track
Credit: SWPix

A month later, British Cycling travelled to Turkey, where Hutt’s confidence hit an all-time low. She failed to make it past the quarter-finals of day one of the BMX World Cup.

“[Before the first race] my confidence hit the bottom. I was looking around thinking, ‘All these girls are going to beat me. How do I expect myself to make the final?’”

Matters worsened as Hutt crashed the following day, hitting her head again. She was taken to hospital for stitches and scans for a suspected broken rib.

“I was racing, and my lungs were bruised. It was hurting to breathe,” said Hutt.

A week passed and a resolute Hutt passed the concussion tests and was fit to race. The day progressed smoothly until the final. She crashed, hitting her head for the third time, and shattering her confidence.

“I was bawling. I said ‘Why! Why do I have to be the one to crash so much? Is it because I am not fast enough?’

“[The team were] telling me I’m fast or I’m one of the better girls but am I actually if I’m the one crashing and being taken out?”

Two weeks later, she suffered the same cruel fate. A promising fourth-place finish in the final was followed by a mentally agonising fourth crash the next day.

“What the actual hell is going on?” thought Hutt.

“This year was by far the hardest year I’ve ever had,” Hutt told the Sports Gazette. “You feel like you are getting somewhere and then hit wall after wall.

“I didn’t know what was going on, didn’t feel like I was where everyone was saying I was, and I had no results to back anything up. So, I had to start again.”

Hutt refused to let a stretch of freak crashes define her year and there were very few better ways to do so than she did.

After five weeks dedicated to herself, she claimed the UCI Cycling World Championships U23 silver medal in front of her first major home crowd in August.

“[At the start line] I was looking at the podium. I was like, ‘That is where I need to be.’

“I showed myself that I can do it. It is just about believing it at all times. I felt the most relaxed, the most confident. I felt like me.”

Emily Hutt wearing silver medal alongside gold and bronze medallists on the UCI Cycling World Championships podium
Credit: SWPix

Despite what a life of BMX has thrown at Hutt so far, it remains a sport she is adamant to never give up.

“I was questioning everything, and it was hard. I lost loads of confidence, but it only motivates me to put in the work.”

Hutt’s dream destinations are the Olympic gold podium, with Los Angeles 2028 the long-term goal, and the World Champion podium where she would don the coveted rainbow jersey.

To qualify for the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics Hutt requires the most points in the women’s elite category, ahead of Shriever.

For now, the next major stop for Hutt is New Zealand for a BMX World Cup on 10th-11th February. An event that will mark the beginning of the new BMX season, and the continuation of a fortuitous comeback.

“I want to go out in 2024 and be like: ‘Here I am.’”

Emily Hutt racing over a hill on the Glasgow BMX track
Credit: SWPix


  • Evie Ashton

    Evie is a sports journalist specialising in features covering social issues & underrepresented groups in sport with bylines in BBC Sport, Sky Sports, and The Cricketer. Looking to highlight voices of (but not limited to) female, queer, or disabled sportspersons. Get in touch if you have a story!