Olympic BMX silver medallist Kye Whyte says the support he received at home was “kind of bigger” than his medal – and described himself as a “diamond in the dirt”.
Whyte won Team GB’s first-ever BMX medal at the Olympics as he took silver at Tokyo 2020.
This year he won silver at the UCI BMX World Championships and gold at the European BMX Championships.
Reflecting on his Olympic success, Whyte told Eurosport’s Power of Sport: “I said before the final, I want to bring something home.
“I just want to bring something home to the club, for myself and family. To actually provide on that, it was great.
“I’m not really an emotional person, but there was a live screen. It was five in the morning in England. There was all my family and all the BMX club kids, all their parents, just all in this one room at the BMX track, all screaming and shouting. I looked at it and was like ‘oh wow’.
“I nearly cried. To see that was kind of bigger than the medal, really. I heard a lot of stories while I was out there, that same morning maybe 30-50 people, new people, turned up at the club to sign up.
“I feel like it put Peckham on the map a little bit. Obviously coming from the place I come from, it’s not a great upbringing, it’s not a great place to live, but I feel like you can’t judge someone where they come from really. There’s always a diamond in the dirt I guess. I think that’s the analogy I look at.
“I come from a little place in London called Peckham and I went all the way to Tokyo and got the first-ever GB medal.”
Whyte started riding BMX as a youngster and attended Peckham BMX Club, which was co-founded by his father Nigel.
His brothers Daniel and Tre also rode.
He says his childhood in Peckham and the challenges he faced helped give him a “lot of perspective”.
“When I was growing up, Peckham was known as a place of crime, basically. A lot of stabbings, robberies. It taught me how to be streetwise.
“For me, I was always known as the BMX kid, always doing wheelies through the park, and all the older boys always asking to ride your bike and hopefully they don’t steal it.
Whyte claims silver on medal-laden morning for Great Britain
“But it’s where I grew up, it’s where I went to school. It’s where all my friends are, it’s where I trained, it’s where I first learned how to ride a bike.”
When Whyte started out at Peckham BMX Club it was a track in urgent need of a repair.
But the success of Whyte and others, coupled with the positive impact it was having in the community, helped the club’s founder secure funding for a new venue that has become a focal point for the local area.
“When we first came here there were maybe seven of us, eight of us…there was a massive ditch,” recalls Whyte.
“It had fridges in there, water, beds, mattresses, everything you can think of.
“This track was basically treated like a tip, we used to dig it up ourselves. Just having that graft just so we can train for two hours makes me appreciate how to train now, so every time I’m training I always make sure I put in 100% because not everyone gets those opportunities.
“The club put a lot of perspective in that for me.”
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