Portsmouth Olympic hero Declan Brooks' family overwhelmed with joy as BMX rider pulls out all the stops to seal bronze medal

OLYMPIC hero Declan Brooks’ family were blown away by his performance as he produced a sensational display to seal a bronze medal in the BMX Freestyle Park event.

Sunday, 1st August 2021, 7:08 pm

The Portsmouth rider pulled off two big double back flips in his second run to improve on an initial score of 89.40 and execute a ‘99 per cent flawless’ display under the most intense of pressure.

Nerves were further shredded when the 25-year-old had a painfully long wait after his 90.80 second run to learn his medal fate - watching six rivals take on his score.

But the former Cams Hill School pupil earned his place on the podium behind Australia's Logan Martin, who took gold, while Venezuela's Daniel Dhers won silver in the first games in which BMX Freestyle Park has been held.

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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 in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff PACHOUD / AFP and JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images.

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Back in Portchester, Declan’s family packed into their Cranleigh Road house - adorned with posters of Declan outside - as they cheered him on before celebrating on the street in the early hours.

But watching the nerve-jangling event was too much for some - with Declan’s mum Kelly Pryer admitting she had to leave the room. ‘I didn’t watch it,’ the 47-year-old said.

‘I had my eyes closed for the first run and went upstairs for the second run. I find it so hard to watch. I worry about something going wrong - there have been so many crashes.

Declan Brooks during the Men's Park Final at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

‘But we are so emotional and proud of him for getting bronze. We are overwhelmed by all the responses we have had. All the hard work he put in has completely paid off.

‘We left it until the last minute to invite everyone over but we had a really nice night with everyone celebrating.

‘Our poor neighbours...at one point we were all outside cheering and being noisy.’

Cars driving past seeing the poster of Declan were beeping their horns while at the nearby shopping precinct there was a banner of the local hero.

The home of the Declan Brooks family who have a son who has won gold in biking at the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Sam Stephenson

Declan’s dad, Lee Brooks, said he was ‘trying to catch up from two nights without much sleep’ as he comes to terms with having an Olympic medalist for a son.

The BMX enthusiast was instrumental in shaping the career of Declan, who honed his craft from the age of 11 at Southsea Skatepark.

‘I’m so proud of him, it’s just mental,’ Lee said. ‘For him to get a medal is crazy.’

Speaking of Declan’s performance, he said: ‘He upped his game in the second run - his performance was right up there.’

And despite suffering a serious crash just two months before the games that left Declan unconscious to put his Olympic dreams in doubt, he showed the true Olympian he was by turning up for the big occasion under incredible pressure to deliver the back flips.

‘You know it’s good when the commentator is saying “no way” and me and his brother were saying, “did he really just do that?”. It was a 99 per cent flawless run,’ Lee said

‘It was a scary course but was suited to Declan. The bigger the course the better he likes it.’

And Lee said Declan’s tactics in not giving away his hand in qualifying, where he was happy to be seeded down in seventh, would have helped catch his rivals off guard - before he unleashed his masterclass.

‘A lot of the riders would have been thinking “did he just do that?”. He didn’t want to show them what he was going to do in the final.

‘We haven’t spoken to him yet but he would be chuffed with his performance.’

It was a view echoed by Effraim Catlow, the former BMX flatland world champion, who is now Southsea Skatepark manager.

‘For Declan to do the same back flips he attempted when he crashed two months ago shows his bravery and speaks volumes of his dedication to the cause,’ he said.

‘I was so emotional watching it and still can’t believe it. I know what it takes to get to the top and to see him do it is a proud moment. I was in tears watching it.

‘After the other British riders had won medals the pressure was on for him to deliver. But he will always be able to look back on this.

‘He is the top BMX guy in the UK. He is so creative and unique. Southsea Skatepark is proud to have produced some of the best riders in the world.

‘I’ve always dreamed the BMX freestyle would be an Olympic sport and to see someone I know win a medal and feel part of their journey is incredible.’

Meanwhile the hero himself, Declan, said after his medal: ‘I’ve just cried for the past couple of minutes. It’s an unbelievable journey I’ve had on the way here, I’m just so stoked to win a medal.

‘I don’t think it’s going to sink in today. For Charlotte [Worthington] to do her thing today, a score out there and tricks we’ve never seen before, it was harder for me to focus on.

‘I knew the run I wanted to pull, I still missed a few bits out today. I’d have liked to have done more but third place for me was mental.

‘It’s such a high-pressure situation, these are world-class athletes. I was crossing my fingers, I can’t believe it.

‘I just hope it [BMX] gets the coverage it deserves. I’m sure everyone at home is watching as well, to my family – thank you so much for supporting me over the years, it’s been an absolute journey.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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