2024 AusCycling BMX Freestyle Nationals the first step towards Paris for Brandon Loupos

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Throughout the latter part of 2022, Brandon Loupos was performing near his peak.

The Sydneysider had made the final of the UCI Urban World Championship in Dubai, and was regularly contending in World Cup events, playing a key role in a strong Australian BMX Freestyle team alongside Logan Martin, Jaie Toohey, Jake Wallwork, Josh Matthews, and Alec Danelutti.

But a series of injuries quickly grounded the 2019 World Champion. A ruptured ACL in late 2022 forced him off the bike for most of last year, before enduring another extended stint on the sidelines when he broke his elbow in a training mishap in August.

“That was by far the worst injury I’ve ever had. I've broken my leg, I’ve done two ACLs, I've broken my collarbone, I’ve sprained my back, I have a list full of injuries, but that by far was the most painful because I had to learn how to use my hand again. I had to learn how to use my wrist, turn my wrist, use my thumb. I still can't straighten my arm fully,” Loupos explains.

“My first thought when I first hurt it wasn't like, ‘oh, how bad the injury is.’ I just literally thought I threw my Olympic dream away again. That's the first thing I thought about, was I'm done. Like, Paris is out the window for me because of me being impatient and making a stupid mistake.”

Brandon Loupos
2022 UCI World Urban Championships (Photo: Tyler Rizzi)

After getting over the initial shock of the injury, Loupos focused on returning to the final two World Cup events of 2023 and earning enough ranking points to keep the Olympic dream alive. However, another round of disappointment followed when the UCI subsequently cancelled the final two World Cup rounds of 2023.

“So, that was probably just as devastating as the injury itself,” he says.

2023 was also a rollercoaster away from the BMX park. An uncle and two close friends passed away, which he admits changed his perspective on life.

“Growing up, BMX was my escape. So, no matter what was going on in my life, I could go to the skatepark and have fun, and it sucks when that's getting taken away from you. That's all you know in how to deal with those emotions, and then more things happen in that area of life, too. So, it's just like, where’s the release?

“This year (2023) was just super hard in terms of character building and then learning more about myself and how I deal with certain situations, on and off the bike … What's changed most about [my perspective] is that sport isn't life. It's not everything. So, I had to quickly learn that life goes on, even when I can't ride.”

Brandon Loupos
2022 UCI World Urban Championships (Photo: Tyler Rizzi)

A focus on family and mentorship provided an unexpected release and sense of fulfilment during the forced layoff.

“Being close to my family has given me another perspective on life. Being close to my nephews, my siblings, being a better brother, being a better person, being a better son.

“Another thing that I’ve really fallen in love with is mentoring … giving tips to kids coming up or if I've got tips to offer in a certain experience that I’ve had when I was their age, I could offer that. That's something that's given me also fulfillment – is feeling involved in things that I feel like I could benefit people's experience or even the sport that I love most, which is BMX.”

With his injuries now behind him, Loupos has returned to competitive riding and is again showing signs of his world-best form, putting together strong performances in recent months, with podiums at C1 events on the Gold Coast and in Adelaide.

In October, the IOC released the 2024 BMX Freestyle Olympic Qualifier Series, laying down a path to Paris and reviving Loupos’s Olympic dream.

“Riding as well as I did in Adelaide, especially against the internationals, it gave me that sense of mind that I am capable of coming back and being better than I was even before I got hurt. I definitely think that the best of me is yet to come.

“[In 2019,] I felt like I was just another couple of levels in front of everybody, and when I come back I definitely want to be that dominant again and I definitely have a vision of how to do it, and doing it with the team up here is just going to make it that much more fun.”

Brandon Loupos
2022 AusCycling BMX Freestyle National Championships (Photo: Gorak Photos)

Next in his sights is the AusCycling BMX Freestyle National Championship at Rampfest in February. Loupos has fond memories of the venue, having won the inaugural Nationals at Rampfest in 2018 and again when the event was last held at the Melbourne venue in 2022, which came off the back of another horror run of injuries.

“My recollection from Nationals that year was, ‘don't give up yet. You’ve still got a lot of growing to do. You’ve still got a lot of learning to do, and the best is still yet to come. Just keep focused and keep riding and keep your head down and just keep doing the work.’ That's pretty much what I took away from Nationals [in 2022], was that the journey is far from over.

“I know they've changed a lot of it, but the changes look like it's for the better, so it's not going to be too crazy. I'm really excited to get down and ride the new set-up and figure out a line on it … I just want to go down there, have fun, and do the best riding I possibly can. And also stay healthy, because the next two weeks after that is a World Cup in Japan.”

Currently ranked 99th in the world, Loupos thanked AusCycling BMX Performance Technical Director Wade Bootes, the QAS staff and his sponsors who have supported him on the road to recovery, emerging from a turbulent 2023 with a clear focus on where he wants to go in 2024.

“Something I've been wanting to do for a really long time is to go to the Olympics, ever since they announced it. And I didn’t get that chance at Tokyo.I didn't come this far to come this far. I really want to go and tick that box while I'm still competitive and still in the running to get a medal at the Olympics.”


2024 AusCycling BMX Freestyle National Championships

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The 2024 AusCycling BMX Freestyle National Championships are proudly presented by RampFest in partnership with Maribyrnong City Council & the Victorian State Government.


Main Image: Tyler Rizzi

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