Porchester BMX star's rise to fame, from Southsea Skatepart to Team GB in the Olympics

FROM Southsea skatepark to Team GB Olympics selection – all the years of hard work and dedication have paid off for Declan Brooks.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 2:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 6:44 pm

The star of BMX freestyle park riding, who hails from Portsmouth, is toasting his call to represent Great Britain in Tokyo later this summer.

In doing so, he will become the first male to compete for GB in his sport with his particular BMX discipline making a maiden Games appearance.

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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Declan Brooks and Charlotte Worthington of Great Britain pose for a photo to mark the official announcement of the cycling team selected to Team GB for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on June 18, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Barrington Coombs/Getty Images for British Olympic Association)

Incredibly, just over three years ago making the Olympics was not possible for Brooks and any other BMX freestyle park rider – prior to being added as a discipline for the first time in Tokyo.

Since 2018, the former Cams Hill School pupil has been based in Northampton after becoming one of the first intake of BMX riders accepted onto the Team GB Cycling Team programme.

Declan now gets the opportunity to train out of Europe's biggest skatepark – Corby's Adrenaline Alley.

But despite his access to high-quality training facilities, the former Portchester resident will never forget the part Southsea skatepark played in him getting where he stands today after first taking to the ramps as a nine-year-old on the seafront.

Declan said: 'My dad used to love anything with bikes and back in the 80s he used to ride BMX – he had a go.

‘When I was four or five he tried to get me on a motocross bike but it just wasn’t for me at the time.

‘A couple of years later he brought me a BMX and took me to the park down Southsea actually and I’ve been doing it ever since.

‘I pretty much had a solid 12 years there [at Southsea Skatepark]. When I go back I just have all these memories flood back of when I was young in there and I used to try new tricks and hang out with old BMX friends. It’s a great place to be, I love it.

‘Southsea skate park has helped me through my whole career, it’s just at this point it’s not quite good enough for me to train.

‘Where it’s outdoor, we need to ride indoor so there are more safer ramps in order to progress to the next level, and Southsea does not have the progression aspect to it.

‘It’s a really good park. It gets pretty windy down there and in the winter it’s not fun, but in the summer it’s immense.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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