The underdog becomes an olympian in BMX Freestyle Park
We’ve written a fair bit about Declan Brooks over the years. Our view spent a long time in the context of, “Here’s this kid from Southsea who always shreds at NASS in a vest,” but thankfully at some point we moved on to something like, “Let’s get to know the guy and see what else he can do.” For obvious reasons, Dec became a lot more interesting to us.
The riding speaks for itself. Natural talent in spades, with not only a drive and ability to learn difficult tricks, but also an eye for an interesting line or transfer.
Dec’s funny character also speaks for itself! He’s not a quiet guy. He’s easy to have a laugh with. Nicely sarcastic, quick to poke fun at a mate. These are traits that we appreciate.
Since FISE and UCI BMX became more and more of a professional sports operation, Dec has been there, putting the hours in, qualifying high, scoring high. Our bias is clear – he’s our favourite guy to watch at a FISE event. Why? Because he uses the course in a way that other riders don’t. He makes the events more enjoyable to watch, more BMX, simple as.
His dedication to riding at that level, along with his attitude and his character have put him in an incredible position. Yes, Declan Brooks is an Olympian, representing Team GB at Tokyo 2020, in the inaugural BMX Freestyle Park event. It’s a well deserved reward for who he is and how he rides. Read on for his thoughts going into the games.
Photos: Adam Lievesley
Q&A with Declan Brooks
BMX Freestyle Park at Tokyo 2020
– Congrats on being an Olympian, Dec! Has it settled in yet or are you still buzzing out of your bin?
Thanks mate, it has has deffo settled in now but still absolutely buzzing! The day it really set in was the kitting out day where we get all the kit we will be wearing for the games. Was just such a big day and finally feels real.
– Have you known for a while or was it sudden news that you were going to Tokyo?
I knew 3 weeks before the announcement went out so for that time I told all my family and friends but had to keep it quiet other than that, which was really hard.
– For people who haven’t been following the UCI stuff, could you explain how it works, like how you ended up being the one chosen?
Basically, for the last 3 years we have been collecting points for our country at all the FISE stops and C1 events. At the end of the points period the top 2 riders that collected points for the UK were myself and James Jones. This means we scored enough points to qualify the UK one rider to take to the games. British Cycling chose the rider they want to take. I guess they take everything about the 3 years into consideration. Contest results, the Olympic course, fitness and everything else. So yeah, they picked me and I’m super stoked and grateful.
– Your Instagram post said “If anyone out there doubts hard work and dedication then you’re a fool.” Care to expand on that? What kind of work have you been putting in since joining the British cycling programme?
Where I was coming from with that was… As a rider I feel like I’ve had a super bumpy journey and not a lot has gone in my favour, other than turning up each day and putting everything into my riding, day in day out. 3 years ago I wouldn’t have been favourite at all to get the one and only spot and represent this country at the Olympics. I just feel like I was a huge underdog.
– Tell us about your prep for Tokyo. With regards to fitness training, diet, how much you’re riding, where you’re riding, what you’re focusing on?
Yeah, we are riding pretty hard at the moment. I had that big crash a few weeks back, so I’m still getting back into the swing of things. But riding is feeling really good so can’t complain at all. I got so lucky on that crash recently. (Under rotated double flip.) To be riding after a week from a crash of the magnitude is unbelievable, really.
Diet is staying the same, not doing anything crazy, just trying to keep everything the same so I feel good going into it. Sometimes we’re riding twice a day but trying not to burn ourselves out.
“I know some people kinda think everyone rides the same at big contests, so to be different and unlock a new line, you’ll always be remembered for that”
– What are you expecting from the event? Assuming you’ve seen the course and have already been riding the exact same obstacles at different events.
Well, by the looks of the course it looks huge. Big lines, big gaps between everything. So I think if you can get all your tricks in and end up with speed then that’s a bonus. But other than that, everything looks similar to what we’ve already rode at all the world cups previously.
– I guess the crowd situation is going to be quite tame. Do you think you’ll miss the kind of hype you get from a big crowd like at FISE Montpellier?
I’m hoping there is some form of crowd there. But to be honest it’s not the end of the world if there isn’t. When you drop in you know you’ve got a job to do and you’re so focused on the run that everything outside almost doesn’t exist. You just get in your groove and flow!
“When you drop in you know you’ve got a job to do and you’re so focused on the run that everything outside almost doesn’t exist. You just get in your groove and flow!”
– Do you think it’ll still be fun out there? Or strictly business?
For sure it’ll be fun as everyone from all the other countries are friends. It could get tense but that’s the contest. People might have some big pressure from their countries. I think the games will be strict in terms of Covid so it will be hard to fully enjoy being away, but that’s just the world we’re in right now.
– We’ve always thought of you as ‘the most BMX’ guy in the lineup, the way you use the course and blast around in a different way to a lot of the pack. It looks like you’re having fun.
Yes, I do try to do that. I know some people kinda think everyone rides the same at big contests, so to be different and unlock a new line, you’ll always be remembered for that. I like going fast and hitting lines so that’s just me having fun and putting my own spin on things.
– Have you eyed up anything on the Tokyo course yet? How will you plan your run, with Jamie, or is it all down to you, how does it work? Do you try and think of some lines that will stand out or does that just kind of happen naturally?
I’ll think about the course and stuff now, but until I get there and have a roll in practise I won’t know what lines are doable. I’ll chat with Jamie and we’ll just talk about what I think I might be able to do but until I get there it’s hard to put a run down. I know what tricks I’ll wanna do and then I’ll just put the pieces together from there.
– Thanks for your time Mr Olympian! Any shoutouts or messages you want to get on record here?
Thank you to my sponsors for looking after me. Mafia Bikes, Profile Racing and Suzuki. Big shout out to you guys for always reaching out and supporting me through my career.
Tokyo 2020 BMX Event Schedule:
BMX Freestyle Park Men Seeding Run: Sat 31st July @ 3:20am UK time BMX Freestyle Park Men Final: Sun 1st August @ 3:20am UK time
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