Kieran Reilly 2024
© Leo Francis
BMX

How Kieran Reilly stays competition ready

How Kieran Reilly did “a total 180” to become the world’s best BMXer.
Written by Charlie Allenby
4 min readPublished on
The 22-year-old freestyle BMXer might be the reigning British, European and World Champion, but is leaving no stone underturned when it comes to staying competition-ready.
Kieran Reilly is the world’s best freestyle BMXer. While that might seem like an overblown statement, the 22-year-old has the rainbow jersey to show it – a storming win at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow proving he’s not a one-trick, content-creating pony. In fact, the Newcastle-born rider landed 13 tricks – including a mind-bending double flair finale – in his 60-second finals run to take the crown, and didn’t put a tyre wrong as he impressed the judges with his creativity and control.
Kieran Reilly performs at the UCI World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland on August 7, 2023.

Kieran Reilly in Glasgow

© Jeff Holmes / Red Bull Content Pool

As one of the most exciting and prolific content creators around, this rise to the pinnacle of BMX freestyle was a foregone conclusion though, right? Not quite.
Getting there has been a seven-year journey that has seen Reilly “do a total 180” with his approach to riding. He’s shifted his focus away from world firsts – such as his triple flair in January 2022 – to pushing the boundaries of the sport within the cut-and-thrust nature of competitions, where you have one minute to impress the judges by doing as many tricks as you can – all while not putting a foot wrong.

12 min

Kieran Reilly's world-first triple flair

Watch 20-year-old British BMXer Kieran Reilly land the world’s first triple flair on a BMX.

“We get two runs and it’s best run counts in the semis and finals. You've got two attempts to do maybe 20 tricks back to back, whereas creating content you have hours to film one trick on its own,” he explains.
To cope with the physicality of the challenge, where you have “to be able to end the run as strong as you started”, he’s been spending more time in the gym and competing in Hyrox events. He also moved from Newcastle to Corby in 2020 to be close to Adrenaline Alley skatepark, where he can practise his main tricks every day so that they become almost second nature. “I know that during an event, I’m not rolling the dice.”
His efforts have been paying off. In 2022, he won silver at the European BMX Championships in Munich, but last year saw him eclipse even his own high expectations by winning the National, European and World Championships.
Kieran Reilly as seen after finishing his winning run at the 2023 BMX Park World Championships on 7th of August in Glasgow, Scotland

Reilly knew that he had nailed down a great run as soon as he finished

© Jeff Holmes

“World Championships meant the most – it was a career goal that I did not expect to tick off then. I'm proud of my prep going into that event but I had no expectations. My parents and all my family came up to Glasgow – they very rarely get to see me ride in person but having them there in the crowd was amazing.”
Winning the rainbow jersey against a field that included three former world champions – Logan Martin, Rimu Nakamura and Justin Dowell – also caused a shift in his mindset. “Now I'm going to events thinking ‘I've worked just as hard as these guys and if I pull off the run that I've got planned, I know I have potential to win’.
BMX rider Kieran Reilly with his bike

BMX rider Kieran Reilly

© Leo Francis/Red Bull Content Pool

I used to be stoked if I made the top 12 and now that hunger has switched to 'I want to win'”
He isn’t letting the rainbow stripes affect his performance either, and uses the additional pressure to his advantage. “When you're introduced as the world champion and people can see the stripes, it's expectation. I try and remind myself to be grateful that I've got that expectation. The reason people are expecting these things from me is because I've done it before. That kind of pressure just gets me in the zone.”
Although he’s proud of how far he’s come, Reilly says this is just the start. “I'm not easily pleased – I'm quite tough on myself. I've achieved a few things earlier in my career than I expected and I want to stay on that trajectory now. I just try to remind myself that the job's still not done.”

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Kieran Reilly

Newcastle-born BMXing prodigy Kieran Reilly is one of the most mind-blowing comp riders on the BMX park scene today.

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