The father of a young cyclist killed in a collision with a van today spoke of his pride in his “inspirational” son’s battle to succeed.
Rising star Lewis Balyckyi, 18, who had been tipped to compete in the 2012 Olympics, was killed in the tragic accident while out training on North Road, Bretherton, at around 5pm on Tuesday.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Today, in an emotional tribute, his dad Kevin told how his son was “born a fighter” and had “never shied away from any challenge.”
He said: “Lewis was every parent’s dream, he never had a frown on his face, always laughing.
“Whenever he was around the people he was with were uplifted and always felt better for the experience. His cheeky smile winning even the sternest of people over.
“He was a fighter from the moment he was born, eight weeks prematurely, he blossomed into the strapping man that he was, the fittest person I knew, and a resolve like no other.”
Kevin said his son “battled against a stammer with typical vigour” by taking a part-time job as a waiter.
He added: “From the age of eight he raced his bicycle all over the country, discovering a flair for winning that inspired his competitors to push themselves harder than they ever thought possible.
“He was always down to earth and willing to help and give advice to whoever asked for it, even to his own detriment.”
Lewis, of Cinnamon Hill Road South, Walton-le-Dale, who had competed across England and Europe, was awarded the Warburtons Rising Star Award at Preston Guild Hall in 2008.
In the same year he achieved his goal of becoming Under 16 National Circuit Race Champion, from a field of over 70 of the best riders in the country.
From there he was a founding member of Team Wallis, where he enjoyed more success, and was due to start pastures new in France in four weeks after winning a place with the John Ibbotson Fund with a French semi-pro team.
“Sadly this was snatched away in an instant less than five miles away from home when he was doing what he loved – riding his bike,” added Kevin.
“Myself, his mum and his sister are absolutely devastated, along with the rest of his family and friends.
“You only have to look at his Facebook page to see the hundreds of kind words spoken about him.
“All say much the same, he never had a bad word to say about anyone, and there wasn’t a malicious bone in his body.
“He was an inspiration to me, as well as being my best friend, and I will miss him terribly.
“We have been left with a massive hole in our lives that will never be filled.”
The family has asked for family flowers only and donations to be made to the John Ibbotson Fund, care of the Balyckyi family.
Lancashire Police is continuing to investigate the collision.