AN INSPIRATIONAL teenager who has defied all odds in recovering from a horrific accident can now call himself a BMX world champion – just one year after being told he’d never ride again.
Oakley Way, 17, who had been riding BMX since the age of five, was devastated when doctors broke the news to him.
He dislocated his knee and snapped and tore a number of its ligaments, landing badly during a stunt last May.
After contracting MRSA in hospital and having a further five operations, his chances of hopping back on a bike were scuppered – but to the amazement of doctors Oakley made a good recovery. Earlier this month he was named as a champion in two categories at the iBMXff BMX World Championships, winning first and second place.
Oakley, from Milton, Portsmouth, said: ‘I was absolutely gutted when I was told I’d never ride again – BMXing is all I’ve ever known.
‘You get such an adrenaline rush out of it and everyone who works and rides at Southsea Skate Park gets along really well, we’re like a little family.
‘It took me three months to start walking again and even now I still struggle to use my leg properly.
‘Another two months after that I went back to the skate park and started rolling around on my bike, and it’s gone from there.
‘I have to wear a knee brace when I ride.’
Oakley hadn’t planned on entering the four-day competition, which is hosted by Nass Festival near Bristol, but couldn’t resist giving it a shot.
He first had to take part in a qualifying round for each category he entered, and competed against BMX riders of all different ages, from across the globe.
The youngster then walked away with first place in the Amateur BMX Park Finals, and came second in the Amateur BMX Vert Finals.
His 12-year-old brother, Reef, also competed.
Oakley added: ‘To be named as a world champion in my first competition back riding feels amazing, I’m so chuffed.
‘I’ve found it more difficult to do tricks since I got back on my bike but they’re becoming easier to do, and I am making progress.
‘Southsea Skate Park is charity-run and without it I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s where I’ve been riding since I started, and it’s where I’ll continue.’
Oakley’s will and determination has been praised by members of his family, skate park trustees and those behind the scenes at the competition.
Richie Inskip, NASS sports manager said: ‘We were so happy to see Oakley back riding and competing at NASS.
‘It’s really inspiring to see anyone overcome such serious injuries and get back on their bike, let alone ending up on the podium in two contests.
‘Oakley can now call himself a world champion within BMX, but the real credit is for the commitment and perseverance he has demonstrated in pursuing his passion.
‘BMX is a positive sport and it’s great to see Oakley inspiring other riders and young people around the world.’
And despite feeling nervous every time he gets on a bike, Oakley’s dad Tim Hunter couldn’t be prouder of his son.
The 37-year-old said: ‘I can’t stop Oakley doing what he loves, and I rest easy knowing his carbon leg brace supports him.
‘Considering the position he was in one year ago what he’s achieved is amazing, the month we spent in hospital was horrible.
‘This boost has done Oakley the world of good mentally and our family are very proud of him.’