Of Team GB’s many achievements at the Tokyo Olympics, the performance of the BMX team was one of the most dominant – it was certainly one of the most watchable.
If you haven’t become addicted to thrilling racing on the track, the new freestyle competition provided some simply breathtaking stunts that led to British medals in each of the BMX competitions.
Bethany Shriever ran for gold shortly after Kye Whyte took silver in the men’s.
In the new freestyle event, Charlotte Worthington pulled off a never-before-seen trick to win gold and Declan Brooks won bronze.
“It was unreal,” Whyte told Sky News, reflecting on a year that was life-changing – south London is now known to many as the “Prince of Peckham”.
“It was a big buzz for BMX … the reaction we got to it was way more than I expected,” said the 22-year-old.
As the younger and more daring cousin of track cycling, BMX was already booming – it now has four models that have inspired young and old to ride a bike.
British Cycling said that while the pandemic and lockdowns have significantly affected participation, it is increasing again in many parts of the country.
Blackburn Junction 4 skatepark has doubled the number of U-12 sessions and is recruiting additional coaches.
Hayes Hawks BMX in West London has achieved record membership levels and attendance has increased 200% over the past two years.
Scott Dick of Hayes Hawks BMX told Sky News they’ve had a “huge uptake”, especially since the lockups.
“This continued with an increase in the number of weekly surveys,” he said.
“We also maintained regular weekly numbers until we closed for Christmas.
“The success of BMX at the Tokyo Olympics created a real buzz … there is a feel-good factor in British BMX right now and after the Olympics it’s about as good as it gets.”
After a long fall break from training, Whyte is now back on his BMX with an eye on the Paris Games in 2024.
He said: “I always feel like we still have to prove ourselves … at the velodrome (track cycling) they’ve won countless medals and we’re just getting started now.
“BMX has only been at the Olympics since 2008 and freestyle has just started this year … we still have to catch up with these guys.”
Whyte is trying ice skating this winter as part of ITV’s Dancing on Ice, but for him the real prize is an Olympic upgrade, silver to gold, in Paris.