With the Olympics drawing to an end earlier this month, it seems crazy to not mention just how AWESOME those athletes are! It's been truly inspiring to watch how dedicated all these athletes are. It's fair to say that while athletes from across the world were getting together in Tokyo, around the world, communities of people have been inspired by their achievements. For our community of Little Riders, the Tokyo Olympics have been the best yet. But, we wonder, has the Tokyo Olympics left anyone else with cycling fever?
For us, while we were watching pro-athletes compete at the top level of their sports. So many of the moments we witnessed resonated on a personal level. They made us think about how our kids enjoy their sports - be it on wheels or otherwise. There were so many key moments from Tokyo - too many to mention! But we've tried to pull together a few of our top hits and how they will make us better supporters for our little riders!
Photo ©️ Jeremy Selwyn
In the Izu velodrome, Laura Kenny claimed her 5th Gold medal. But she also became the first British woman to win Gold at three Olympics. Not only that, she has become the most decorated female Olympian cyclist in history! PLUS, she is a mum to her son Albie, born in August 2017. Kenny, along with other parents competing in Tokyo, has spoken up about the challenges of leaving their children behind to be able to compete. We can only imagine it is especially challenging for Kenny, whose husband Jason Kenny was competing alongside her, and went on to win his 7th Gold Olympic medal and become the most decorated British Olympian!
Kenny's Family ©️ Ebene News
"It's so hard leaving him [Albie] at home. But I couldn't do it without these girls. With Katie [Archibald], I feel like I'm racing with a sister - I'm so grateful to have her here and her support. I couldn't have done it without her." Laura Kenny
To us, these words remind us again how strong the bonds are between our cyclists - and we see this every time we take out own little riders to the pump track or on the trails. When they fall, get cuts and scrapes, it's the helping hands of their fellow riders that dust them off and bring them back in the saddle.
Watching Kye Whyte win Silver in the BMX racing and then support teammate and friend (since the age of 12!) Bethany Shreiver on to Gold was a beautiful moment!
You might have watched the freestyle BMX this Olympics? We know we were glued to our screens. Watching it make its debut and lauded as bringing a "...fresh, youthful feel to the 2020 Olympic program." and we were excited to see how it played out…
If you or your little riders are into their BMX and freestyle, then you know that unpredictability is central to the sport! But when Charlotte Worthington brought the Ferarri to the Games, it was a Gold-winning run!
Wait… a Ferarri?!
"...we had a codename for the 360 flip, which is the Ferrari."
Worthington revealed that she had a secret code name for the trick, never before pulled off by a female competitor in competition. But what the press hasn't really covered is that she failed to pull it off in her first run. So her competition and the crowd knew. The "Ferarri" was out of the bag! So how do you keep your nerves together and stomp it down in the second run - only minutes later?
But as Worthington herself was quick to point out, landing that one trick didn't win the Games. It was the whole run. The years of practice and the commitment and support of those around her. Dislocating her shoulder only 6 weeks before the Olympics, Worthington has said that it took a real toll on her mental health. SInce she has got home, she has said that an athletes mental health and wellbeing accounts for 90% of their success. So, lets talk about it.
This is also why we should take a minute to applaud Simone Biles at this point for prioritising her mental health, opening up conversations about ‘the twisties’ and normalising putting yourself first. At the parents of little riders, we have all found ourselves in the position of having taken your little one to the track, an event or training, only for them to not want to participate. Frustrating, we know!
Watching Biles had an impact and made us rethink some of the conversations we have with our kids. Growing up, we used to hear: “you’ve made a commitment, you’re doing it!” with little/no regard as to whether we actually still wanted to do said commitment.
And if you think about it, who made the commitment, the parents of the kids..? So if our kids tell us they don’t want to do something anymore, should we be letting them stop for their mental health? Or making them finish the term before stopping - to teach them the importance of a commitment?
We aren’t sure what the correct answer is - or even if there is one right answer. However, we know that athletes like Biles, Naomi Osaka and Ian Thorpe opening up about their mental health and using their platforms to normalise these conversations can only help us support our own little riders and ensure we have their best interests at heart.
The Kids Are Alright!
The company's name gives it away - we are focused on the LITTLE riders, and it's fantastic to see the #LittleRiderArmy growing day by day. But have you ever heard comments from friends or family that your kids might be 'too young'? Because we have. To be clear, we firmly believe that if you are riding - or doing any sport - with your little ones safely and appropriately, no age is too young!
Look at Sky Brown skateboarding in Tokyo this summer. Not only was she the youngest British Olympian ever to compete at 13 years old, but she claimed the Bronze in the freestyle to become the youngest ever British medal winner. BUT even better - Kokona Hiraki from Japan took the silver at age 12! Incredible athletes, and still 'just' children. Better than most will ever be after a lifetime of skating.
But come on, let's mention the gold winner - Sakura Yosozumi, also from Japan. A veteran at the old age of 19! She only got her first skateboard at the age of 11 and progressed rapidly to win the first-ever World Skate-sanctioned Park Skateboarding World Championships in Nanjing, China.
So I guess the moral is no age is too young - and no one is too old! After all, British snowboarder and Bronze winter Olympian Jenny Jones didn't strap into her first snowboard until she was 16!
Image: Little Rider on a bike
So What's the Olympic 2-Wheel Legacy?
The success of these Olympians is already being felt - from grass-roots start-ups to the higher levels of International Sport. With British cycling already standing up and saying they need to work with the current BMX infrastructure and provide more funding.
But there has been much talk about whether the Olympics will somehow 'ruin' sports like BMX, Skateboarding, Surfing and Snowboarding in the winter Olympics. Like somehow having this competitive level of the sport will somehow 'steal the soul' or compromise the usually underground sports.
We recently listened to Looking Sideways podcast with street-skating legend Cairo Foster who put it beautifully. Is skateboarding or BMX being in the Olympics a good thing for your riding? If you think about it, what is your riding about? Or what is your Little Rider's riding about? It's about hitting the track as much and often as possible and having FUN when you get there. The sport's exposure at the Olympics is purely positive when it comes to telling other human beings, ' look, you CAN skateboard/BMX/Surf.' Also, that it is a good thing, not a waste of time.
After all, if our children are looking for role models they can identify with, to reassure their lifestyles: LGBTQ actors on TV. People of colour in the fashion industry. Women in more business board rooms. Why not the inspirational athletes of the sports they love? Gymnastics, surfing, athletics, BMX.
If kids who have never sat on a BMX bike turn around tomorrow and want to be like Kye Whyte or Charlotte Worthington, then how can BMX at the Olympics be a bad thing?
Photo of Kye Whyte and Bethany Shreiver
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