Tokyo 2020 Olympics BMX medalist Declan Brooks greets hundreds of fans at Southsea Skate Park as it launches fundraising campaign
HUNDREDS of eager fans lined up to meet a returning Olympic hero.
Declan Brooks returned to Southsea skate park, the place where he had been practising on the ramps since he was nine and now returns with a bronze medal from the Tokyo 2020 games.
He clinched the medal with two hair-raising front flips in the BMX Freestyle Park event last Sunday.
Now the 25-year-old from Portchester has returned to his much-visited childhood training ground, spending hours posing for photos and signing posters at Southsea Skate Park.
He said: ‘It’s crazy. But this is what it’s all about, giving back to the kids. If a bronze medalist had been here when I was a kid I would have made my life.’
And the sportsman has thrown his weight behind a new fundraising campaign for the skate park to install a resi ramp – a beginners ramp with a foam covering – to encourage even more young people to follow in his footsteps.
Declan said: ‘There’s definitely room for training areas here. The resi ramp that is needed, that would bring so many people down. It would help kids progress through the sport – that would be amazing.
Looking at the 50-person strong queue waiting for an autograph, he added: ‘It’s crazy. But this is what it’s all about, giving back to the kids. If a bronze medalist had been here when I was a kid I would have made my life.’
Southsea Skate Park aims to raise more than £7,500 to build the new training ramp, according to the site’s manager, Effraim Catlow
The former BMX flatland world champion: ‘We have concrete, wood, metal – it can be quite hard to learn tricks, it can be quite scary.
‘It’s fantastic to have Declan here at the skate park. I’m sure we will discuss him coming back.’
Declan’s Olympic success can be added to the more than 20 world and national championship titles that have been won by skaters and bikers who regularly train at the skate park – and its legacy is already inspiring the next generation of champions.
Reef Way, a 16-year-old BMXer from Portsmouth, hopes to follow in Declan’s footsteps and said: ‘It’s amazing that he came from Southsea and still made it to the Olympics. It gives you a goal – not just to ride in little competitions, but go big and go all the way to the Olympics.’
The huge crowds at the skate park are not the first time the community has shown their admiration for Olympian Declan, with hundreds of Portchester residents lining the streets as he returned to his family home after flying back from Japan on Tuesday.