More than 5,000 miles from the humble beginnings of Polegate Skatepark, Hailsham mountain biker Daryl Brown celebrated success on the international stage last month.
After finishing the season on a high, taking first place at the FISE World Tour in China last month, he recalls the start of a glittering career which started on the roads of his home town. He fondly remembers jumping curbs as a six-year-old and coaxing the local kids into being obstacles for his daredevil stunts.
“I was jumping curbs in the street when I was six and then my dad made a ramp for me from a milk crate,” he says.
“I used to get the kids in the area to lie down and line up so I could jump them.” Asked if they were willing participants, he recalls, “ I don’t think I really gave them much choice.”
The early sense of freedom that his first ever bike gave him is something just as important now as a professional rider as it was as a young, impressionable mountain bike enthusiast.
This care-free approach was evident as his unrivalled style caught the eye of the judges and bagged him the crown in front of 30,00 watching Chinese fans.
Daryl admits he is more at home on the more testing courses and the one in Chengdu, which puts unprecedented demands on its riders with an array of different jumps, was the perfect place for him to showcase his talents.
“If there a 50 jumps then that’s better for me. The harder the course the better. I don’t like it if there is just two jumps and someone just does a double backflip and wins.”
Sponsors have flocked for his endorsement after witnessing his exploits and Daryl is quickly growing a huge online following as well.
A video recorded at nearby Beachy Head got 325,000 views in its first two weeks, while his exploits in China attracted almost half a million viewers.
“When I post a video online and see how many people have watched it and read their responses - that’s a really great feeling. Obviously winning is a highlight too and featuring in magazines and things is also pretty good.”
The prize money has been pretty good too. Daryl bagged a cool 7,500 euros from last month’s win and the 2015 season looks set to be equally prosperous for the youngster.
Never did he dream that mountain biking would become his full-time job but that is the reality now as he looks forward to a hectic year of competing against the world’s finest riders all over the world.
First up, he jets off to Austria where he will compete in the Vienna Air King in April.
Before then he can be seen strutting his stuff at the local Eastbourne skatepark alongside young hopefuls who hope one day to tread in his footsteps. Humble as ever, Daryl had a message for them.
“If you’re looking to make a career out of it you’re starting off wrong.
“You should just have fun with it and see where it goes. If you take it too seriously then you’re not going to have fun and that is what this sport is about.”