A student and BMX rider from Royston is hoping to win a world championship medal as she recovers from a back injury.

Harriet Alexander, 18, a first-year sports psychology student at the University of Winchester, has been selected to ride in the championships in Glasgow this August, despite not having ridden for over a month.

Due to the immense strain she puts on her body during races, Harriet believes she has damaged the intercostal muscles around her ribcage, causing her sharp pains when she breathes deeply.

However her previous fast times meant she received special dispensation to compete from the British Cycling selectors.

Royston Crow: BMX rider from Royston Harriet AlexanderBMX rider from Royston Harriet Alexander (Image: The University of Winchester)

Harriet first rode BMX as a six-year-old, and won regional championships representing her home-town club the Royston Rockets.

She first took part in the world championships in Belgium as a 15-year-old, when she competed in the challenge class for her age group.

Since then, her racing career has been disrupted - first by Covid and then by injury when she was 17.

Despite these setbacks, Harriet gained one of the University of Winchester's two sports excellence awards. 

Each award is worth £500 per annum, with the added benefit of the university's health clinic physiotherapy support, strength and conditioning coaching and complimentary use of the university gym.


Senior lecturer Chris Ford has put together a programme of treatments and exercise to get Harriet back in the saddle.

Harriet said: "Chris and physio Liam Newton have been great helping me with exercises to strengthen my back.

"I’m so excited at being chosen for the worlds and this has really helped me focus on my rehab and improving my strength and power."

Chris explained that the root of Harriet's problem is in her shoulders, caused by hunching over the handlebars of her bike.

He said: "We are working on her posture and movement, so her shoulders realign, so she can move properly."

Harriet will compete in the challenger class at Glasgow - down from the elite level - but she hopes to one day compete in the Olympics.

She also hopes to take up coaching after her competing days are over.