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IT’S been a rollercoaster season for Tom Brennan.

The Swindon kid has seen his club Eastbourne close down, move to Glasgow, reach two Play-Off finals, top score in a World Under-21 Team Cup final with 20 points, win both his heart-stopping races in the SoN, get a gold medal and then get run over by Maciej Janowski.

 

In truth though, Brennan was only bothered about one achievement. For his mum Sarah, who has been battling cancer for three years, to watch him win that world title live on BT Sport.

In that hotel suite, he reflects on his mum’s Facebook post of how proud she is of her boy.

There’s no doubt about how her fight is affecting him. His eyes are red and welling up. Although that might have still been from the champagne spray from the podium celebrations.

But he revealed to me: “It’s hard, really hard. To see what my mum is going through is so tough. I haven’t been able to see her enough. It’s been so busy.

“She understands, I know she does, but in my mind I want to see her more and try and help her through this along with the rest of my family.
“We’ve only got another week or so of the season, then I can travel down. That will be a big relief to me.

“The cancer has come back and it’s spread more. Mum had to go into hospital by ambulance recently, back on chemo and since then has been in to have her abdomen drained. She is such a fighter and I’m just as proud of her as she is of me.

“I can’t lie though it is on my mind. The funny thing is that being so busy with speedway has been a good distraction. I literally haven’t had time to think and I know she’d probably prefer that.

“But it’s an awesome feeling to know she was watching on TV, that she saw me get a gold medal. Her Facebook posts are literally all shared posts that involve my speedway. It makes me laugh some of the stuff she posts, it’s all so positive and so supportive.”

For a kid of just 20, Brennan speaks with remarkable assurance and composure. He is always polite, always smiling and always engaging. He is a credit to his mum and family.

Yet he is also a Jekyll and Hyde character. Stick on kevlars and a crash helmet and he is as hard-as-nails. This was epitomised by his ridiculously brave ride to squeeze past Sweden’s lively Philip Hellstrom-Bangs in that breathtaking race in the SoN.

Just three days later on home track Glasgow, Brennan was brought down by Poland’s Jakub Miskowiak and the oncoming Maciej Janowski had nowhere to go but plough straight over him.

But Brennan was up on his feet within seconds somehow and rode in the re-run on the way to another very impressive paid nine for his country.

He added: “My leg, back and head was hit. I’m thankful that it was Magic behind me and he had managed to scrub off some speed. It was just one of those things. I had a headache but the bike came off the worst.

“I didn’t really think about it to be honest. I was a bit sketchy in the re-run but I managed to feel a bit better afterwards and got a few more points. I was more annoyed that I was on a 5-1 when I was brought down, I only got a paid second in the re-run.

“In the SoN both my races were a bit hectic to say the least. Tai (Woffinden) was incredible to team ride me on Saturday. Then on Sunday Robert (Lambert) and I went for the same line to start with against Philip.

“Once Robert was past him I knew I had to do something big. The dirt was way out wide so I just kept going and it worked thankfully. It’s a nice feeling to achieve a gold medal obviously, it still feels surreal.

“But Robert, Tai and Dan (Bewley) did the main bit, I was just happy with the part I played and I did all I could. Whatever happens I’ve won a gold medal in my career. You have to take every opportunity when you can. I’ve learnt in life, the hard way, that anything can be thrown at you at any time.”

Level-headed Brennan is already remarkably popular in the Great Britain camp and at Belle Vue and Glasgow, in a very short space of time.
A lot of his strength is clearly drawn from his mum along with his adopted family of partner Kristen Cummings, her brother Kyle and parents Kerry and Craig.

Craig, of course, was the mechanical genius behind Billy Hamill’s World Championship win in 1996. His young son Kyle has inherited those genes as Brennan’s pit crew and Kristen does all of his social media, he also lives in Wolverhampton with the family.

In fact Kyle, with his mop of red hair, was the first person seen celebrating the SoN win on BT Sport when the cameras switched to the pits.
Brennan is quick to acknowledge their support, adding: “Obviously mum and my stepdad Martin (Dugard) are always a big inspiration and help.

“But I also couldn’t do this without Kristen and her family. They have been absolutely unbelievable to me on a personal level and speedway. I like it because we are a close knit team, it’s a family and it works best that way.

“Kyle and Craig are amazing mechanically. It also means we can talk through things all the time and work things out.

“There’s been some tough times this season. I’ve not done what I wanted to do at Belle Vue, I wanted to be better and I can improve.

“I also had Eastbourne close down which has been a real struggle. Not just losing my club and home track knowledge, but also so many other implications caused by that.

“It was also a tough start at Glasgow and that was so frustrating. But it has started to work a bit better over the past fortnight. I’ve still got two more big meetings to come with the Championship Grand Final. It’s been an incredible season of ups and downs.

“But the entire Cummings family help me get through all the issues. Kristen is my rock and they all play a massive part in the final results on track. The gold is for my mum and the Cummings family for getting me this far.”

With that, he glances down at his medal, almost just to check it’s not a dream.

Brennan’s feet remain planted on the ground. But he has got the speedway world at his feet.

Images Taylor Lanning.
Thanks to Speedway Star magazine