This athlete’s journey to the Olympics shows the power of determination and sacrifice
Kye Whyte has been riding BMX bikes pretty much all of his life, and now he's achieved a remarkable first Supercross World Cup title in front of his home fans in Manchester at just 19 years old.
Now, with plenty of experience under his belt, Kye has his sights set on a place in Team GB for the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020, and while he's hoping to perform well, it's as much for personal glory as it is for the love and sacrifice of his devoted parents.
"His dad bought him a bike and that was it, we was basically in trouble," explains his mother, and from then on, it was obvious to all that saw him race what Kye's true calling in life was.
"He's different from everyone else on the track," explained his proud father, a local BMX coach. "He's totally different from everyone else. I said you gotta win, son, you gotta win. And he did. He didn't stop."
Growing up in Peckham in South London, Kye is the youngest of three brothers, and when he isn't gripping the handlebars at breakneck speed, he's taking on his brother Tre in any and all video games. Kye implied that his sibling rivalry was the driving force behind his dream of one day going to the Olympics, even moving to Manchester - the home of the National Cycling Centre - to help himself reach the level he needs to make Team GB in a year's time.
"I've always told everybody how I want to move to Manchester like my brother," he said. "Tre's got a bronze medal at the World Champs before and obviously last year I got second and my dad was smiling for ages," said Kye, while adding that without his dream of riding bikes to the highest level, his life might have been very different.
"Both of them went to school in Mainline Peckham. It was definitely a risk for them, living within this area, living around Peckham as well. Training, riding their bikes through Peckham," explained his mother, and Kye admitted: "I don’t really know what my school friends are doing – they’re either selling drugs or are caught up in knife crime or are still living at their mum’s at 20 years old."
"We were always honest with our kids. We always told them: 'Mum, Dad can't really afford it'... They both knew that me and their dad have had to borrow money to get them to certain races," Kye's mum added, and it's a reality not lost on Kye. If he's able to prevail in Tokyo, he wants to give it all back to his parents.
"Every race now I do is just so I can pay back my mum and dad. If I can buy them a car, whatever car they want after I've done all my achievements, they can have whatever car they want, to be honest. And I can only do that if I win. You don't get all the glory and all the nice stuff by coming third and second."
It's a big ask, but Kye has turned out to be a special talent.
With nine British Championships, six National Championships, a European Championships silver medal and now a Supercross World Cup title under his belt, this talented young man is looking to push himself to the next level - if not for himself, for his parents who have sacrificed so much to support his dreams.
But in order to reach those levels, Kye has had to undergo sacrifices of his own.
"My biggest sacrifice to get to Manchester is leaving family and friends really. This is the only route to the Olympics that I can take," he said, and although he's far away from those he loves, he's got a vital helping hand from The National Lottery to help him be the best that he can be, allowing him to move to Manchester to train full-time ahead of the Olympics.
"Without The National Lottery funding, I would probably still be in London, working in the bike shop and then still training after," Kye admitted, and his presence is greatly missed back home. "I just miss him for being Kye," his mum said, while his dad revealed how his son's dream is all that keeps him going some days.
"He brings happiness when I'm sad. Them days when I'm down or when I'm working and I think 'I'm going to leave this job' - 'I can't leave this job', I told my boys they've got to stick with it, whatever happens."
But thanks to the incredible generosity shown by The National Lottery, Kye's aspirations remain very much alive. "Since I've been 12, this has been my dream, and this is where I'm destined to go," said the teenager, and with The National Lottery's help, he can fully focus on making his parents proud.
"Now I'm here, I'm only going to train harder and get faster to win the Olympics," Kye explained. With support from The National Lottery, the sky's the limit for this exceptional young athlete.
Sponsored article in association with The National Lottery Good Causes