Brothers’ wheel of fortune

BMX aces: Alex (left) and Ryan Brookes
BMX aces: Alex (left) and Ryan Brookes
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Watching their heroes battle it out for Olympic BMX glory has whetted the appetite of two Leyland brothers.

Promising bikers Ryan (10) and nine-year-old Alex Brookes were trackside in August when the world’s best BMX racers gathered in London, gunning for a coveted Olympic gold medal.

And after watching Latvian Maris Strombergs and Mariana Pajon, of Columbia, storm to gold in the respective men and women’s events, the youngsters are aiming to follow in their footsteps in years to come.

It is only the second time that BMX racing has featured in an Olympic Games after it debuted four years earlier in Beijing.

And now the two brothers have targeted a place at the 2020 Games and beyond as they look to make their mark in the sport.

The members of Preston Pirates Club, in London Road, already have a catalogue of success in the sport as junior riders.

Ryan is the current national champion at his age group and also finished inside the top 10 at two rounds on the European circuit in Italy last year.

Alex is ranked No.7 in the world, after he performed well at the World Championship, held at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham last May.

The family double act, who attend Leyland St Mary’s Primary School, got to see many of their Olympic heroes up close in Birmingham as the adult World Championships were held directly after the junior event.

Dad Ian said: “It’s the boys’ dream to compete 
in an Olympic Games. We were sat in the stands for the Olympic BMX event in London.

“It was a massive experience, although a bit different to the World Championships in Birmingham, because that was an indoor event, whereas the Olympics competition was outdoors. But it was still just as exciting.

“In Birmingham, the boys – because they were competing – were actually down in the holding area with all the other riders getting ready for competing.

“So that was a great experience for them to be in the same environment as the adult riders.

“The boys competed on the Thursday in Birmingham and then we stayed on all weekend to watch the adult championships.”

As well as Strombergs, the siblings also got up close to America’s rising BMX superstar Connor Fields 
and Australian Sam Willoughby, who won a silver in London.

“Connor Fields is the one they like to watch. He’s quite young – I think he’s only about 20,” Brookes senior added.

The brothers, who are not the only talented riders from Preston Pirates, are hoping to win selection to Team GB’s Olympic development squad by the time they reach their 13th birthday.

Coached by former World and European champion Dylan Clayton at the indoor BMX Centre in Manchester, the boys took up the sport after driving past Preston Pirates’ track one day.

“They have been riding since they were aged three and four,” their dad added.

“We drove past the club one time and they just 
fancied having a go. They enjoy doing it and that’s the main thing.”

Brookes senior, who was a motocross rider in his youth, admits he can get a little nervous when he watches his fearless boys hurtling around a crowded BMX track competing against numerous other riders.

He said: “It can be quite scary because they are only nine and 10, but they don’t even think about the dangers – I think that’s the scariest 

“At the indoor arena in Manchester, going down the hill, they can reach speeds in excess of 20mph.”

To help with the expense of competing nationally and internationally, the boys receive sponsorship from BMX Hype.

They will need all that financial help as they are planning on travelling 
over to Auckland, in 
New Zealand, to take part in this year’s World Championships.