Kye Whyte’s Olympic silver medal has sparked inspiration for a new generation of kids taking up BMX, that’s according to his hometown club in Peckham.
Whyte claimed silver in his debut Olympic Games in Tokyo, with Beth Schriever winning gold just minutes later.
CK Flash, the coach and CEO of the club, has mentored Whyte since he was a toddler, when he took up BMX as a hobby – and the British Olympian has never looked back since.
CK was instrumental in the opening of the BMX track in 2013, securing £100,000 worth of funding from The National Lottery in order to open the facilities in the heart of Peckham.
And Flash admitted that the people who play The National Lottery each week play a vital role in supporting Team GB’s athletes, helping clubs like Peckham BMX transform the lives of riders like Whyte.
“Kye always seems to surprise me,” said Flash, who has seen first-hand how National Lottery funding allows athletes to train full time and benefit from world class facilities, technology, coaching and support teams. This has never been more important in getting them to the start line than in this time of Covid.
“He's been with me since he was three years old. I’ve been running the club for 17 years and getting the club to where it is with the other seven riders who made it onto Team GB.
“We were in one of our community halls and the atmosphere when it all went off, especially when he was winning, was crazy.
“It's an amazing thing for the community and amazing for kids in the club to look up to. Let's look at the future and see if we can make some more Kye Whytes."
Having witnessed Whyte’s success, Peckham BMX Club today hosted an event supported by UK Sport and The National Lottery to inspire more children from urban backgrounds to get involved in potential Olympic and Paralympic sports.
Two-time Olympian Iwan Thomas was there to support the event, having done BMX himself up until the age of 14 before focussing on athletics.
And Thomas admitted BMX was an exciting sport in the programme and has given National Lottery-funded athlete Whyte a chance to follow his dreams all the way to the Olympic Games and on to the podium.
Thomas said: “The reaction everyone is having to Kye’s success is huge and rightly so because he's a role model.
“What he may not realise now is there are kids here today with big smiles on their faces but what becomes a reality for them is they see Kye train here, and it becomes achievable for them.
“All of a sudden, these youngsters who are already inspired will think 'if Kye can get there and medal, maybe I can.' That's all youngsters need to keep them in the sport.”
35 percent of Team GB athletes come from the UK’s largest cities. It would be great to see more people from big urban areas follow Whyte’s example of believing in their potential and seeing how far their journey in sport can take them – for Kye, it’s taken him from Peckham to Tokyo.
Also attending the event was Hannibal Morris, Head of England’s Talent Development Pathway at Sport England, who is determined to launch BMX in urban areas to develop the sport further. Sport England has invested £23 million in grassroots cycling since 2017, with over £4.6 million dedicated to talent.
He said: “People sometimes don't realise by playing The National Lottery, even if it's just one pound a week, they're actually paying towards people's dreams so thank you to the British public.
“What we really hope for is to open the aperture of high-performance sport so that sport is seen as an option, not a privilege, for all young people of the UK, regardless of their background. It goes beyond Kye's individual success and shows what's possible.
“From Sport England's perspective, we want to ensure a national development for BMX across the country to represent modern British culture, which is best showcased by Beth and Kye.”
One rider already inspired by Whyte’s medal-winning performance is Peckham’s Kieran Beneochrise.
The 15-year-old said: “It was amazing for him to take silver and it was well deserved.
“I’ve seen him train here and to know he started with Peckham is really inspiring to know that I can make it as far as he did.
“My dream is to win gold at the Olympics one day!”
Thanks to support from The National Lottery and its players, UK Sport are running an initiative to get more young people from urban areas to explore their potential in Olympic & Paralympic sport. Visit www.fromhome2thegames.com for more information