Olympics20 – quick stats – article

When Declan Brooks told the BBC after winning his Olympic bronze medal in the BMX Freestyle on Sunday that he had had an “unbelievable journey” to get to Tokyo, he was not overselling it. 

Stephen Park, British Cycling’s performance director, has now admitted that he feared the 25-year-old might have killed himself in a crash just eight weeks ago at the Urban Cycling World Championships in Montpellier.

In a video shared with Telegraph Sport, with Brooks’ permission, you can see the 25 year-old attempt to land a double-backflip in the final in France. But he does not quite complete the second rotation, landing heavily on his face. He is immediately knocked out cold. 

“I was sitting 15 yards away in the stands and I actually thought ‘Christ, is this my first fatality?’” Park told Telegraph Sport on Sunday, shortly after Brooks had taken bronze in the men’s event and Charlotte Worthington gold in the women’s to complete an extraordinary week for Britain’s BMX riders. 

“Never mind [whether he would make] the Olympics, I was genuinely worried Dec had killed himself or broken his neck. I was worried about them moving him. I was worried he wasn’t moving. It was terrifying.”

Declan Brooks' accident took place just two months ago

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Brooks recovers in hospital after his fall

Brooks was taken to hospital by ambulance but in the end escaped with a few scratches to his face, a sore shoulder and concussion (although his helmet was a write-off). The rider from Portsmouth was off his bike for two weeks going through concussion protocols before returning to full-time training for Tokyo 2020. 

Brooks, who was once a contestant on ITV’s dating show Take Me Out, admitted the ‘double backflip’ had been preying on his mind heading into Tokyo. “It was a pretty bad accident,” he said. “So that trick is always sitting at the back of my head. That’s why I did it at the start [of his final run] because I just wanted to get it out the way. But thankfully I landed it perfect.”

Park said Brooks’s bravery was inspiring. “Honestly, if you saw how heavily he crashed…” he said. “It’s unbelievable he’s riding at all, let alone landing all these tricks. It was only two months ago. These guys are incredible.”