Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Portchester BMX bronze medallist Declan Brooks is welcomed home by cheering crowds
WITH an Olympic bronze medal around his neck and a shocked smile on his face, BMX champion Declan Brooks has returned home from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to a heroes welcome – with huge crowds surrounding his family home in Portchester.
Declan clinched the bronze with two hair-raising front flips in the BMX Freestyle Park event on Sunday.
Driven to Portchester after a long flight from Japan, the 25-year-old was stunned to be greeted by hundreds of cheering loved ones and neighbours.
Surrounded by supporters and with a free pint from The Seagull pub in Cornaway Lane in his hand, the homecoming hero said: ‘It’s mental. I was expecting to just go home. This is mental.’
Thanking the community for their constant support throughout the competition, he added: ‘Thanks so much for the support. It’s been amazing while I have been out there and motivated me to come back with a medal.’
And despite a gruelling games and a long flight home, Declan spent more than an hour greeting well-wishers, posing for photographs, and letting young fans hold his Olympic medal.
Mum Kelly Pryer said: ‘I thought maybe there would be ten or 20 people. Portchester has come out to say congratulations.
‘He was getting loads of messages of support while he was out there. I think at one point he had to turn his phone off because he was feeling overwhelmed.’
Dad Lee Brooks added: ‘I’m ecstatic. The kids look at him and you can see they are thinking, ‘that man has a medal from the Olympics’.
Girlfriend of three years Beth Campbell said she could barely watch her partner’s medal-winning performance, with memories of Declan knocking himself unconscious during the world championships in June still fresh in her mind.
The 24-year-old said: ‘Just three weeks ago he had a really horrible accident and all I wanted him to do was come home safe and unscathed. But to come home with a medal and come home to this – it’s mind blowing.’
But with bronze around his neck, Declan will now have his sights set on a gold at the next Olympic games, according to Lee.
He said: ‘He’ll be setting his sights on Paris in three years’ time.’
Before that, something even more important awaits the homecoming hero – a traditional cup of tea.
Mum Kelly said: ‘He likes a nice of cup – and it’s lovely having him home to make the cups of tea. He does the best cup of tea.’
A cuppa will help the podium-taking biker feel truly at home after a ‘surreal’ journey, according to Kelly, who picked her son up from the airport.
She said: ‘All the people coming out (from the airport) with their medals – it’s so emotional.’
So far Team GB has taken home more than 43 medals during the Tokyo Games.
With her son among the elite group, Kelly said: ‘It still hasn’t sunk in yet.’