Kieran Reilly: From Leam Lane carpenter to Paris-bound BMX history-maker

Ever since being one of few kids in the north-east to walk past the football pitch and head for the skate park, Kieran Reilly has chosen a life less ordinary.

Born in the Leam Lane area of Gateshead, Reilly has always been proud of where he comes from.

“It’s definitely seen as a working-class community,” he says. “That’s where I got a lot of my ethic from. My Dad’s the hardest-working person I’ve ever met. We never ever went without, no matter what.”

After badgering dad Darren and mum Leanne, he was given a ‘We The People’ BMX bike for Christmas aged eight. Then it was out onto the skate park morning, noon and night until he mastered the art.

“I was taken under the wing of the older kids at the park,” he said. “I was jealous of all these tricks they would do, and I was persistent in trying to learn them. I just fell in love with the adrenaline rush, and I’ve been glued to a bike ever since.”

Darren adds: “Kieran would find out on Facebook about competitions. He’d say: ‘there’s a competition in Liverpool, can I go?’ and wherever it was, we’d jump in the car.”

Now he’s a full-time athlete in BMX freestyle, a high roller in the game of doing triple flips on two wheels, making him favourite for Olympic gold at Paris 2024.

Reilly hails from a working class community and says his Dad is 'the hardest working man I've ever met'
Reilly hails from a working class community and says his Dad is ‘the hardest working man I’ve ever met’


“I left school and did carpentry for three years,” he says. “I didn’t fall in love with that like I did BMX. It’s always been a hobby to me and now I can do this full-time.

“I pretty much feel like every day I’m living the dream. It’s far from work for me. Going to the skate park and putting in the work, it’s all a good time.”

It’s that mentality that means Reilly is less scared than any of his rivals of going ‘all in’ when it comes to attempting the most difficult and perilous tricks.

Reilly works on the mental side of the sport with Sir Andy Murray’s sports psychologist Rich Hampson, who features in the tennis star’s Amazon Prime documentary ‘Resurfacing’.

Kieran Reilly Triple Flair
Kieran Reilly celebrates during the Triple Flair project at Asylum Skatepark in Nottingham, on January, 06 2022

“It’s very new to me,” said Reilly. “I was sceptical at first because it’s so new to our sport and I’ve not heard of anyone else using it, so I didn’t see the benefit.

“But it’s not so much psychology, it’s more just breaking things down. Like when you say a certain trick is scary, you’re then building that image to yourself.

“When you start working with him, you realise ‘oh yeah you’re really in your own head’. Little things can have a massive impact, like doing a certain routine before you drop in so that it feels the same every time.”


Reilly has been handsomely rewarded with European Games gold and victory at the World Championships in Glasgow, earning him the prestigious rainbow bands and a coveted qualification spot for this summer’s Olympics.

Reilly now believes the rest of the field are mimicking his mentality.

“I think my style has definitely influenced a lot of riders,” he says. “They’re all trying to replicate the double flair now because I feel like I pioneered this new age of competing. I’ve accidentally promoted it, and the style is now being taken on by others, so we’ve just got to keep pushing.”

To claim gold in Paris, Reilly will have to get past Australia’s Logan Martin, who won the inaugural Olympic title and has five X Games crowns to his name.

Gold medal winner Kieran Reilly of Britain (left) and silver medal winner Logan Martin of Australia (right)
Gold medal winner Kieran Reilly of Britain (left) and silver medal winner Logan Martin of Australia (right)

“Logan is arguably the most dominant rider we’ve ever seen,” says Reilly. “I’m lucky in that I’m young and I have a lot more time ahead of me than him, so my aim is to catch him.

“He was seen as unbeatable for a long time; I beat him in Glasgow when we both put down our best runs and that gave me a lot of confidence. I don’t see why I can’t do that again in Paris and try to take his gold.”

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View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/other-sport/kieran-reilly-leam-lane-carpenter-29148444

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