Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Portsmouth BMX rider Declan Brooks pulls off two front flips to win bronze in his Olympic debut
A BMX rider from Portsmouth who made his debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and pulled off two front flips has won a bronze medal.
Declan Brooks, from Portchester, was one of 26 riders selected for the GB cycling team for Tokyo, and one of 16 who made their Games debut.
The 25-year-old, who was born in Portsmouth and grew up in Portchester, won bronze in the men’s BMX freestyle competition in Tokyo this morning (Sunday) following his compatriot Charlotte Worthington who won gold for Great Britain in the first Olympic women’s competition.
The double success meant Britain have taken a medal in all four BMX events at these Games after the racing gold and silver for Beth Shriever and Kye Whyte.
Declan pulled off two big front flips in his second run to improve on an initial score of 89.40, with his 90.80 putting him in provisional second.
Veteran Daniel Dhers, from Venezuala, 36, posted a 92.05 for silver and Australian Logan Martin pulled off a no-handed frontflip to score 93.30 and secure gold.
Declan said he was overcome with emotrion at the win.
He said: ‘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 to do her thing today, a score out there and tricks we’ve never seen before, it was harder for me to focus in.
‘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.’
The former Cams Hill student has overcome adversity to compete – after he was knocked unconscious when an attempted double back flip at the World Championships in Montpellier, France, went wrong.
Fortunately, he suffered no serious injuries.
He has not let the pandemic hold him back either, setting up a gym in his grandfather’s garage so he could train during lockdown.
The star has previously spoken of how grateful he is to have the chance to compete in the sport he loves as BMX freestyle was added to program for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Speaking to The News, he said: ‘‘When I started out 15 years ago I never thought I’d be in this situation because BMX freestyle has never been an Olympic event before.
‘It’s a blessing that now I’ve hit my peak, it’s just come in because there are so many riders before me that would have loved this opportunity.
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‘To be the first male to go to represent Team GB is a huge achievement and I’ve just got my friends and family to thank for their support.
‘If you’d asked me a year ago, I wasn’t probably a medal potential rider but during the Covid-19 and lockdown stuff that’s really helped me out in terms of getting to the next level of my riding.’
Declan was cheered on from the stands by the Ariake Urban Sports Park by gold medal winner Charlotte.
Charlotte made history in more ways than one as the 25-year-old Mancunian nailed the first 360 backflip to be performed in women’s competition in a huge second run – having crashed attempting the move in her first.
It was just one of several highlights in a second effort that earned the former chef a monster score of 97.50 to edge out three-time world champion Hannah Roberts of the United States.
Having made the 360 stick early in her run, a confident-looking Worthington also threw in a front flip and a huge backflip on her way to gold.
Charlotte said: ‘It’s kind of unreal, I’m waiting to wake up.
‘I’ve been dreaming about this for four years, and it still feels like I’m dreaming four years ago, I’m still waiting to wake up.
‘I didn’t put any pressure on myself. You go in and out of it, you’re thinking there is some pressure and maybe it’s not going to happen this time.
‘But you’ve just got to let that go really quick and refocus. I tried not to have any pressure and I tried to focus on enjoying myself and taking it one trick at a time.’
Charlotte, who only started competing in 2016, had shown her ambition in the first run as she attempted the 360 backflip, but missed the landing to hit the deck, leaving her well down the standings after the opening round.
But she showed no fear as she went for the same routine the second time around.
‘It was incredible,’ she said. ‘I’ve not been doing that trick for that long, we’ve been trying to find that big banger trick and when we found it we thought, ‘this is the one’.
‘We put a lot of faith in that. To be honest, I wouldn’t have had any of those tricks if it wasn’t for Hannah (Roberts). She’s made me push so hard since day one, this is the first time I’ve beaten her.
‘If it wasn’t for Hannah Roberts, we wouldn’t be this far anyway.’