KYE WHYTE has a message for any kids caught up in inner-city gangs: Sport can get you out of trouble.
The 21-year-old, one of Great Britain’s most exciting young cyclists, claimed a silver medal this morning in the final of Tokyo 2020's BMX competition.
Brought up on a Peckham council estate in South London, Whyte and older brother Tre steered clear of gang-related activity as they focused on BMX, racing in the evenings and weekends at Burgess Park.
Whyte, close mates with 21-year-old Arsenal star Reiss Nelson, is the perfect example for any disaffected youth in dangerous neighbourhoods.
And he is proof you can succeed in life with the right mindset having made it all the way from his council estate to the Olympics.
After claiming his silver medal, an elated Whyte said: "The medal means everything to me. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"It is hard to get to the Olympics in the first place. To do well and get a medal, it is special."
Had he not fallen in love with BMXing, Whyte is confident another sport would've kept him off the streets.
He told SunSport in 2019: “I believe there are loads of sporting opportunities out there. It’s just that people might not choose that path.
“There are so many clubs in London. You have Arsenal, Tottenham, Crystal Palace athletics centre, BMX centres.
“If I didn’t do BMX, my dad is such a sporty person I’d have done sport anyway.
“That gang life is not something that appeals to me. Growing up in London is not always the best place.
"If you’re involved in that crowd, you’ll be involved in that crowd in bad ways.
“We’ve had friends in that crowd. But you chose to do that.
"Maybe when we were younger, you had the wrong crowd coming maybe to take your belongings.
“It has happened to me before. You can either make friends with them and not be in the crowd. Or maybe be cool, say hi.
“Doing BMX meant everyone kind of respected me. They thought, ‘He’s not in that crowd. He wants to do his thing’.
“I’m close with Reiss Nelson and he is respected for his football.
"Everyone knows us for doing that. Me BMX, him football.”
Sadly, Whyte knows two young friends who have after being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Kye Whyte (Cycling – BMX)
Place of birth: Peckham, London
Career highlight: Olympic BMX silver (2020)
National Lottery funding: “I believe I’m on the right track to achieving my Olympic ambitions. National Lottery funding means I receive the best coaching, can train on a world-class BMX track and access the best nutrition advice, strength and conditioning coaching and psychological support. Most importantly, I know if I have a crash I have access to the best medical team, who are committed to getting me back on my bike as soon as possible.”
The Olympian said: “It was both down to knives. One was gang-related.
“We went to different schools but everyone knows each other in South London.
“Another was helping a kid from getting bullied or robbed. He got into a fight with the guy and was stabbed and killed for no reason.
“Maybe he could have walked away from it. But he was being a good friend. That was very sad.”
National Lottery funding has supported more than 6,000 athletes since 1997, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support. Each time you play The National Lottery, you are transforming British sport. British athletes have won more than 860 inspirational Olympic and Paralympic medals since National Lottery funding began.
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