Thurlby BMX hot prospect Ryan Hutchinson (15) has all the makings of becoming the 21st century version of Roy of the Rovers.
Less than a year after taking up the one-time extreme sport, Hutchinson came fifth in the 2013 national rankings and was invited to join the Great Britain Olympic Talent Team based at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester.
Hutchinson, a student at Bourne Academy, currently heads the 2014 British BMX Series for Under 16s after five rounds, with Olympic Talent Team training in between competitions.
“I’m pretty amazed by how far I’ve come and it’s crazy how I got picked up by British Cycling’s Olympic Talent team because I didn’t think I’d get this far in such a short period of time,” Hutchinson said.
“I started off doing four cross (mountain biking) for a season, then I came over to BMX racing in September 2012 and qualified for my first National Series finals, coming third in one of the two races.
“Then I got picked up by British Cycling and I’ve been training with them ever since.
“I’ve become so much better at the sport than when I first started and now I just want to do the best that I can.”
Hutchinson’s journey to potential sporting stardom could have taken a very different route having been a member of the Thurlby Community Primary School side that clinched the Football League Community Cup at Wembley Stadium in front of a 20,000-strong crowd in 2009.
“I was playing football for Bourne Town Juniors but I wanted to try an individual sport like mountain biking,” said Hutchinson.
“Then I saw BMX on TV so I thought I’d give it a good go, even though the sport looked really dangerous.
“It gives you the adrenalin to get the best results you can, but I still look at BMXing as fun because if you don’t, you won’t enjoy it.”
Training camps at Manchester Velodrome include tips on diet and nutrition, gym workouts, race drills, preparation and strategy with his coach Mark Seaman.
Then there is the small matter of travelling to and from his club, Braintree Bullets of Essex, because of the lack of young riders at Hutchinson’s nearest club, Peterborough Phantoms.
Hutchinson said: “My coach will ring me every Monday and give me a training plan for the week and to give me feedback on how my work has gone during the week.
“It’s not a one-day-a-week sport and you have to really try if you’re going to progress in BMX.
“I definitely take the sport more seriously now and I want to do my best at the Nationals really badly.”
The speed of Hutchinson’s rise in BMX racing has delighted his family, especially dad Rick and mum Julie Hutchinson who, their son revealed, “really enjoys coming to watch me and would take me anywhere”.
Hutchinson’s parents said: “Ryan is in only his second full season of national BMX racing yet he’s already a member of British Cycling’s Olympic Talent Team.
“After five out of ten rounds, Ryan currently leads the British BMX series in the under-16 category by a small margin and he’s really on a high.
“It’s just cray how it’s going and for a young lad, it’s a bit barmy.
“But to be honest, Ryan is buzzing and it’s really lovely to see the boy growing as a young man.
“It’s great to see what the sport is doing for him as he really didn’t know whether to finish with football.
“We were having a laugh because Ryan finished football on a high when his primary school got through to the finals of the Football League Community Cup with Thurlby Community Primary School in 2009 and represented Lincolnshire at Wembley Stadium.”
If Hutchinson is to reach a similar high in BMX racing, he has to graduate from the Olympic Talent Team or Development Apprentices programme to the Olympic Development Programme where Hutchinson can develop his riding skills, race strategies and personal fitness, subject to a selection trial.
The next level is the Academy Programme, or “finishing school”, where potential Olympians stay full time at Manchester Velodrome with the aim of reaching Podium level performance.
Hutchinson said: “I’m definitely happy with where I am (on the Olympic Talent Team) and I’m enjoying my training with Mark Seaman who has made a massive difference to my racing.
“The way he teaches me is different class and I’m starting to realise the level I’m at now, although I wouldn’t say I’m the best rider yet.”
BMX has been an Olympic sport since the 2008 Beijing Games in China, turning riders such as Kyle Evans (20) of Wigan, current world champion Liam Phillips (25) of Taunton, Somerset, and the face of BMX in Britain, three-times world champion and two-time Olympian Shanaze Reade (25) of Crewe into household names.
“I’ve seen Liam and Shanaze at Manchester Velodrome, but not to talk to,” Hutchinson said.
“Liam is a quality BMXer, the way he rides is inspiring and I’d love to be like him.
“I want to go all the way and I’ll try my best to do that, but I need to concentrate on what I’m being told by my coach.
“The sport is in a good place at the moment and the technology involved is improving all the time.
“I would say to anyone interested in taking up the sport that if you enjoy riding your bike and going fast, then BMX is the sport for you.”