Published Friday 7 October 2022 at 12:20
Olympians are set to descend on Darwen next week to train at a skate park which has gone from being one of the smallest in the country to one of the very best.
Gold medal winner, Charlotte Worthington MBE and bronze medalist, Declan Brooks will be part of Team GB’s BMX Freestyle cohort training at Junction 4 Skatepark.
The pair used the facility during the pandemic in the run-up to the Tokyo Games.
However, it’s now unrecognisable having undergone a £1.2m transformation.
Today, the facility is an Olympic facility with a world-class BMX freestyle park course, street course and it’s soon to boast a dirt jumping course too.
Anthony Ramsey, who runs Junction 4 as a not-for-profit community interest company, said:
This is what we’ve all been working towards.
It’s a huge privilege to be hosting Team GB as they prepare for the finals of the UK Series, the UK Championships and the World Championships in Abu Dhabi.
It’s certainly a far cry from when the pandemic first hit and we were just days away from having to close our doors forever.
Now, we’re proud to be an Olympic facility which has some of the biggest and best ramps in the whole country.
The ultimate dream is that one day we’ll have our very own Olympian from right here in Blackburn with Darwen.
The new-look facility – which even has its own cocktail bar – officially opened its doors in June and has since hosted two Olympic trial events.
The transformation was made possible thanks to support from Blackburn with Darwen Council which helped Anthony and his team secure a £250,000 grant through the Government-funded Darwen Town Deal.
That then helped unlock further vital funding from British Cycling’s Places to Ride Fund.
They were dark days when we thought we would have to shut – it was truly heart breaking.
We had big plans for the skate park, but they felt like just a distant dream at that time.
Now, to see the new extension open and being so well used is just incredible and it really does just feel like the start for us.
Already we’re looking at phase two which would boast additional training facility to help riders increase their potential to reach Olympic medals.
We’ve literally gone from one of the smallest skate parks in the country to truly one of the best.
Junction 4 is part of a brand new sports village being created as part of the £100m Darwen Town Deal.
It’ll include upgraded facilities at Darwen FC and Darwen Cricket Club too.
Wayne Wild, Chair of the Darwen Town Deal Board, said:
Anthony is truly inspirational in what he’s achieved at Junction 4 Skatepark.
He wanted to give the borough’s youngsters the chance to access world-class facilities and he’s done just that.
He also knew that done right, he would be able to attract visitors from across the country to Darwen and we saw that happening during the summer with the Olympic trials.
A lot of hard work and determination has got him to this point and as a Board, we’re really proud to have been a part of helping to bring an Olympic facility to Darwen.
Charlotte Worthington MBE pulled off an amazing 360 backflip – the first by a female rider at the Olympics – to win gold in the BMX freestyle event at Tokyo.
Her team mate Declan Brooks added to the medal count with a Bronze in the Men’s BMX Freestyle final. He was invited to officially cut the ribbon the new Junction 4 skate park this summer.
Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:
It’s fantastic that Team GB are set to use Junction 4 as a training facility – having Olympians descend on the town is superb and I know they’ll be offered a warm Darwen welcome.
As Wayne says, the credit really must go to Anthony and his team for what they have achieved there – it really is something else.
It’s also a brilliant example of what partnership working can achieve and the opportunities that Darwen Town Deal will be able to bring forward.
I wish the Team GB riders the best of luck in their upcoming competitions.
Click here to find out more about the skate park, including opening times and the different sessions available.