Corby preparing heroes' welcome for BMX medal-winning Olympians

Adrenaline Alley is Europe's largest urban sports venue

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 4:59 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 5:03 pm

The team behind Corby s Adrenaline Alley, the training base for Team GB's Olympic medal-winning freestyle BMX riders, have already started planning a huge welcome for the conquering heroes.

It was in the early hours of Sunday morning that viewers in the UK tuned in to watch world-beating Charlotte Worthington and team mate Declan Brooks take on the world and ride away with a sensational gold and bronze medal respectively.

Mandy Young, founder of the skate park where the duo train, was in tears as she watched the pair take to the ramps in their events and now she's planning for their return to Corby.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mandy Young founder of Adrenaline Alley

She had been watching Charlotte and Declan practising their routines and was privy to the pioneering backflip 360 that wowed the judges and the watching world.

Mandy said: "We knew Charlotte had been practising that trick but we didn't know when she was going to do it. I thought 'will she have the confidence to do it?'

"She got more points than any other competitor - male or female. When she won we were just jumping around. I was crying - we were in tears of elation - we were so happy."

Adrenaline Alley has been the official training centre for Team GB's BMX Freestyle squad for more than two years in the run-up to the Tokyo games.

Declan on his bronze medal-winning run

In 2019 the £69,000 'Wairhouse' opened to provide a scaled-up training area for aspiring and professional riders, with funding of £15,000 from Corby Council and the remainder from two private anonymous donors.

Mandy would like to see Adrenaline Alley - the first UK development centre - be adopted as the official Olympic training centre.

Mandy said: "I would love to find the funding to have an official Olympic training centre. We own the land, it's central and it would be a massive asset to everyone in the future. It would be a sustainable long-term legacy.

"It's about the community, not just the elite riders. People can come along and ride alongside Olympians. Charlotte was one of our regular volunteer coaches helping on a Wednesday night. She's a very good coach too - the kids love her."

The skatepark is Europe's largest indoor facility

Mandy is hoping that the town will want to get behind those trained in Corby Olympians' success, especially since gold medallist Charlotte, although hailing from Manchester, lives in Corby and has family links to East Carlton.

Cllr Lawrence Ferguson, mayor of Corby Town Council, was watching the drama unfold on Sunday morning.

He said: "I will be pushing for us to put on a civic reception. It was amazing and we should celebrate this good news story especially as Adrenaline Alley has been through a tough time in the past 18 months what with Covid."

MBE recipient Mandy is adamant that without Adrenaline Alley there would have been no success. She founded the project when looking for somewhere safe for her son John Chard-Young to hang out after he experienced a bout of bullying.

Charlotte's thrilling 360 backflip scored highly with the judges

After years living with a brain tumour, and going through radiotherapy and chemotherapy, John found friendship among the skateboarding community. Sadly he was attacked while on his board after which mum Mandy and son John became determined to find a safe place. They held a community consultation to find out how they could help young people avoid intimidation, out of which Adrenaline Alley was born.

John and Mandy spent the next two years on their dream before they were finally donated space for a park at Rockingham Speedway. Moving into a converted chicken processing plant in 2006, John became the receptionist and worked for three years at The Alley but died tragically at the age of 24.

Mandy added: "It will be our 20th anniversary next year. It's been a crazy journey. Adrenaline Alley has changed lives. That's why it's so emotional from John's legacy point of view.

"Without him there wouldn't be Adrenaline Alley - I look around and see his legacy. As a family - my husband Paul, and his sister Jodie - we are so proud."

Staff are already planning a homecoming and hope to have a guard of honour of BMX bikes, banners and balloons.

As the park opened its door to urban sports fans today, they all admitted that they had been inspired by the weekend medal tally.

Kieran Reilly - Olympic hopeful is in training for Paris 2024

Kieran Reilly is part of the training squad who moved to Corby from Newcastle six months ago to fulfil his Olympic dream and follow in the wheel tracks of Charlotte and Declan.

The 20-year-old said: "It was amazing. I was thrilled for both of them. I knew they were both capable of getting a medal. Charlotte's run changed women's freestyle BMX forever. Now all the competitors have got to do the same. It's the best I've ever seen Declan ride."

Charlotte Worthington wins gold and Declan Brooks bronze at the Tokyo Olympics