Sam makes sacrifices to chase Olympic dream

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Eastbourne cyclist Sam Stean will miss his A-level exams as he bids to join the Olympic Academy Programme in five months time.

The GB rider is set to compete in round three of the Junior UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Italy this weekend before travelling to Switzerland for the Junior UEC European Mountain Bike Championship at the end of the month.

The Junior British National Champion may complete his exams at a later date, depending on a potential move onto the Under 23 Academy Programme.

He is already a part of the Olympic Development Programme for junior athletes and he must perform well to be selected to take the next step.

The Academy Programme is only for riders who have potential of winning a medal at an Under 23, Senior European or World Championship event in two or three years. They learn to live full-time as a professional bike rider seven days a week, meaning he would have to uproot from his home in Eastbourne and move 270 miles north to Manchester.

Stean has been one of Team GB’s stand-out mountain riders this year following his 31st place finish in round one of the Junior Mountain Bike World Cup.

He was the highest-placed GB rider after he climbed 64 places from his starting position but the 18-year-old’s success has come at a heavy financial price for his dad.

John Stean has spent around £10,000 on bikes, components, services and petrol this year alone. Only last week he had to drive to Manchester twice so Sam could compete and attend a training camp.

He does receive limited funding from UK Sport and discount from The Tristore on Grove Road.

Like most families in the UK, money is tight and John is appreciative for the extra help.

He said, “The sport is very expensive when we are completely broke. The small amount of funding from UK Sport is welcomed.”

His son’s rapid development has been of credit to a local coach David Trunkfield. who has given guidance and training for free to Sam and delivers a different spin on traditional cycling training methods.

The South Downs and Friston Forest offers the perfect terrain for the Olympic hopeful to nurture his skills free of charge. He regularly cycles up Butts Brow, across the Seven Sisters and along to Brighton.

Sam Stean is another young sporting talent from Eastbourne which is representing his country on the international stage.