How to get into BMXing like Tokyo Olympic hero Declan Brooks

OLYMPIC hero Declan Brooks’ journey to success started at Southsea Skatepark nearly 15 years ago when he was aged 11.

Sunday, 1st August 2021, 6:09 pm
Bronze medallist Britain's Declan Brooks stands on the podium for the victory ceremony of the cycling BMX freestyle men's park event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo by Jeff PACHOUD / AFP / by JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images.

The BMX freestyler would ‘rock up’ at the skatepark - thought to be the oldest and most iconic in the UK if not the world - with his dad Lee and brother three times a week and hone his skills.

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As he progressed to become an amateur rider when he was 13, Lee would take him ‘everywhere’ from Scotland to France to compete.

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Declan Brooks when he was 14 in action inside the newly opened facilities at Southsea Skatepark. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

‘With BMX racing there is more of a community with adults also taking part in racing. But with freestyle it is just the skateparks,’ Lee said.

‘There are no clubs, there is no affiliated governing body, no rankings. That’s why it is freestyle.

‘You just rock up and do your thing.

‘We would just drive around everywhere and turn up for competitions.

‘By the time they are old enough they don’t need you to drive them. It’s up to them if they want to compete, which Declan did. And now for him to have an Olympic medal is crazy.’

As someone who ‘loves’ BMX riding, Lee said the area was lucky to have Southsea Skatepark where in the ‘80s and ‘90s they used to hold the memorable freestyle ‘King of the Concrete’ competitions.

‘Southsea has the oldest concrete skatepark in the country,’ he said. ‘And you have Effraim Catlow, the former BMX flatland world champion, who was there as a kid and is now the manager.’

Those looking to become the next Olympic hero just need a BMX and a skatepark.

Other skateparks in Portsmouth include at Bransbury Park, Milton Park and at Paulsgrove.

Others across the area include Cottage Grove in Gosport, Hayling Island Beach Skatepark and parks at Clanfield, Purbrook, Abshot Mini Ramp in Fareham, Fareham Park Lane, Bartons Triangle in Havant, as well as in Park Road North.

Lee-on-the-Solent also has one as does Denmead, Emsworth, Bishop’s Waltham, Stubbington, Wickham and Swanmore.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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