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Peckham BMX club proving to be the wheel deal

JUST CHAMPION: Star rider Isidore in the film 1 Way Up

FORMER CHOICE FM DJ CK Flash has implored British Cycling (BC) to adopt his formula in the pursuit of BMX riding talent.

The popular CK is organising the first ever BMX Radio Challenge race day set to take place on April 19 at Burgess Park in South London, and the BMX enthusiast and CEO of Peckham BMX Club is hoping to attract thousands of young children to the event.

Having established his BMX club with a £10,000 grant in 2004 on a bit of wasteland in the borough of Southwark, CK’s facility has produced riders who have gone onto become world, European and national
champions.

With the club nationally recognised as a hotbed of talent CK, a former BMX rider himself, said the race day, which he has actively been promoting on local radio stations and in schools across the borough for the last two months, will be an opportunity to boost interest in the sport as well as proactively connecting with a demographic that is often forgotten.

Talking to the Voice of Sport about his personal joy in seeing the Sport England sponsored BMX Radio Challenge race day come to fruition, opening a new track last year and some of his frustrations he said: “It’s emotional, it really is.”

He added: “I’ve held my emotions down over the years but last year when we opened the new track I broke down.

“It all came to light. We started on a back garden track when everyone said ‘no’ to me.

“People laughed when I started bringing some of these kids from an urban background into competitions.

“I told them (the kids) to shut their mouths and let their riding do the talking, it wasn’t long until some of the loudest critics were being beaten by my charges, some of them melted away in shame others asked to join our training groups.

“We’ve come a long way and I’m really proud of the work everyone has done.”

CK goes to great lengths to convey the fact that the work being done at Peckham BMX Club is a community effort, a contributory element he believes is undervalued by certain quarters in the sport’s higher echelons. But it is his 360, total care approach, which is yielding positive results.

He said: “Peckham BMX is like a miniature version of British Cycling, we get a bit of funding but not as much as BC would. They need to start looking at people like me for the formula for attracting and retaining urban youth.

“I’m one of two coaches but we have a team comprising of psychologists, masseurs, chiropractors, strength and conditioning coaches, everything required to develop an elite rider.


VISIONARY: CK Flash is the inspiration

“And the beautiful thing about them is that they offer their time for free, they see the vision and understand the commitment required.

“But we also take it upon ourselves to engage with the parents and make a point of doing that in environments where they are comfortable.

“If their child is misbehaving in school or not delivering to a standard we all think is acceptable, we stop them riding until they get themselves back on track.

“This type of support is unique, cannot be offered by a man from Oxford who has no ties or understanding of what life is like around here.”

The formula is definitely working. Peckham BMX Club currently have nine riders on the Olympic Development programme and in 2012 one of their star riders Qullian Isidore, became world BMX champion.

Isidore and another Peckham BMX club starlet Tre Whyte, will both be the subjects of movie 1 Way Up, set to be premiered at the PeckhamPlex cinema on July 7.

The story tells of the determination of two young athletes and their hope to escape one of London’s toughest gang neighbourhoods, defy stereotypes and strive for their personal best to race in the BMX World Championships.

Looking ahead to the BMX Radio Challenge race day and a brighter future beyond, CK said: “Using the little track we had before I couldn’t cater for anymore kids it was too tight.

“But now we have a new facility, a 400m Olympic standard track (at the cost of £1.2m) where we can give up to 50 kids a time free use of bikes and helmets, the time is right to do an event like this.”

He added: “All of these kids are into music so I’ve called in favours from the radio stations and DJs I know, as well as going into three schools a day for the last eight weeks to promote the event.

“It’s a chance for kids to come and see that there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel if they want to ride BMX.

“They will get to meet professional riders on the day as well as learn how to deal with a BMX.

“There are competitions where prizes will be given but really the day is all about engaging. Hopefully we’ll garner support to do the event once a year.”

Visit: peckhambmx.co.uk

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