Downhill mountain biking, staged on steep, rough terrain and featuring hair-raising jumps and drops, is not for the faint-hearted. Former Steiner School pupil Laurie Greenland's career in the extreme sport is going rapidly in the opposite direction after signing for the professional MS Mondraker team, however. The 19-year-old from Fishponds in Bristol backed up his world-leading performances on the junior scene with a stunning silver medal in the global championships last year and is now aiming for the very top.
Laurie says: “It's been a progression since I was two years old – the stabilisers didn't last long! I lived over the road from a skate park, joined Bristol BMX at the age of seven or eight and got really involved in it.
Because my dad (Ben) also did it, I got into racing downhill. I went on to race at regional and national level and managed to get picked up by a World Cup team called Trek World Racing and it has all kind of fallen into place from there. My dad is still doing it and is trying to keep up with me as best he can!
My team-mate with MS Mondraker, Danny Hart, is the world champion and I was the runner-up so it's looking good. To be the best in the world, you have to do it multiple times, I think. It could be down to fluke otherwise. That's the aim – I'll give it the best shot I can.
It is a growing sport and it is really cool to see it get recognised as time goes on. It is on a lot more people's radar these days and it is the biggest thing Red Bull TV do, which is awesome.
From the outside it can look like a mad sport but, just like when I watch professional surfing, skating or base jumping, it is one of those things you can't comprehend before you get good at it.
You'll only do what you are comfortable doing. You've got to get into a certain, maybe even a sick, head space. It is not do or die, but it is definitely focused, down-to-the-wire stuff. You have got to do that to leave as little room for error as possible.
That might look insane to the public and we will be pushing the limit when it's the top level of competition but it's not as crazy as everyone says.”
Key achievements: 2016 – Joins the MS Mondraker pro team and finishes as runner-up to Danny Hart at the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy; 2015 – Crowned UCI Junior World Cup series and World Championships winner, taking the latter title in Vallnord, Andorra; 2013 – At the age of 16, wins overall title at British National Championships.