Aug 28, 2023
BMX: World Cycling Championships in Glasgow 'boost sport's image'
Imagine the eyes of the world being focused on your home city and your favourite sport. If you're Andre Gillie, you don't have to. The BMXer is from Glasgow, where some of the world's best riders are
Imagine the eyes of the world being focused on your home city and your favourite sport.
If you're Andre Gillie, you don't have to.
The BMXer is from Glasgow, where some of the world's best riders are taking part in the World Cycling Championships.
Andre says having the event on his doorstep is "so good", helping to change attitudes and boost the sport's image.
His friend Dan Banks, another rider, agrees that people are starting to view them differently.
"If you saw kids on BMXs you'd think they'd be bad kids," Dan tells BBC Newsbeat.
"And now it's like, this is a legit sport that can be world recognised.
"It is having its time to shine and show the average person that that kid on a BMX on the corner... maybe that kid could have a future and get on a world stage, winning medals for his country."
BMX freestyle, where riders perform tricks, was first added to the Olympics at the Tokyo Games in 2021.
It's set to return at the Olympics in Paris next year and both Andre and Dan say people are starting to take it more seriously.
The cyclists spoke to BBC Newsbeat just after Great Britain's Kieran Reilly won BMX freestyle gold in the men's competition and reigning Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Worthington qualified for the women's final.
"The world can see what's going on and what these athletes are doing," says Andre.
"It's really good that they've got a world stage to show their skills."
Both Dan, 27, and Andre, 20, tell Newsbeat how riding has improved their mental health.
"When I'm riding my bike, I'm not really thinking about anything else that's going on," says Andre. "I'm just focusing on what I'm doing.
"It's definitely increased my confidence and it reduces stress."
Research by the NHS suggests that more than 20% of young people have a probable mental health disorder.
Campaigns by organisations like Sport England and mental health charity Mind have highlighted the link between physical activity and mental wellbeing.
"It's a community thing," says Dan. "I'm a massive extrovert, I need people to recharge."
"There's such a huge community of BMX riders here," adds Andre.
Dan started riding when he was a teenager and moved to Glasgow about five years ago. He says the BMX scene there was a major pull.
He now rides together with Andre and coaches younger people hoping to pursue the sport.
Events like the World Championships "opens people's eyes" to the sport, he says, but what people see on-stage is the end product of grassroots riding.
"Being able to just express yourself with random crazy tricks, it's just super fun" he says.
"It will never get boring."
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