Preston teen and UK wheelchair motocross champion set to reach new heights

Posted on - 5th September, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, Preston News, Proud Preston, Sport
Tom Woods performing a handplant
Tomas performing a handplant

Preston’s Tomas Woods, the UK’s top wheelchair motocross athlete, is set to continue competing on the world stage after securing a new sponsorship.


Combining BMX and skateboarding tricks, WCMX sees competitors ride their wheelchairs across a skatepark, reaching speeds of 25mph, hurtling down ramps to land jumps and flips.

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At just 14, Tomas has won podium positions across Europe, and placed 4th in the World Championships in California last year. He has even been promoted from the junior to the men’s category based on his impressive skillset.

Now, with sponsorship worth £7,000 from local insurance brokerage A-Plan Insurance boosting Tomas’ competition plans, he is inspiring others to take up the sport.

Tomas is is aiming to raise the profile of WCMX in the UK by getting more wheelchairs installed at skate parks across the country – the biggest barrier to entry.

Tomas Woods
Tomas took to WCMX after receiving a diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)

Fresh off a first-place finish in Switzerland, Tomas said: “While WCMX is the biggest disability sport in parts of Europe and in America, there’s less awareness in the UK, and overall, it’s still developing as a sport.

“I’d like to thank A-Plan, who have been an amazing sponsor and given me their full support, helping me to make a positive impact in the WCMX community and transform the perception of disability sports in the UK and across the globe.”

Tomas took to WCMX after receiving a diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a connective tissue disorder that causes joint instability, chronic pain, fatigue, fragile skin. He also has issues with
his internal organs, causing dizziness, heart palpitations and digestive disorders, and struggles with an upper body muscle weakness and hand tremor.

He began trying to learn how to do wheelies and other tricks in his NHS-issued chair, watching YouTube tutorials. Soon, he was racing up and down the bowl at Graystone Action Sports, landing tricks that had taken other people years to master. He’s now the first in the UK to land a full hand plant and has ambitions to set the record for the longest rail grind.

Tomas at A-Plan with his parents Joanna and Terry and Branch Manager Jamie Harper
Tomas at A-Plan with his parents Joanna and Terry and Branch Manager Jamie Harper

A-Plan Preston Branch Manager Jamie Harper said: “Tomas is an incredible young man; not only is he a leading athlete, but he is also paving the way for wheelchair motocross in the UK. It’s an underrepresented sport, and it will take determination to get WCMX the recognition it deserves – but from the way Tomas pushes boundaries with his tricks, we’ve no doubt he’s the man for the task!

“We’re proud to give our full support to Tomas and his family and can’t wait to see him go from strength to strength.”

Since Tomas began competing, WCMX has become a family affair, with his parents Joanna and Terry accompanying him and helping to develop international connections, including wheelchair designer Tom Finch. Together, through Tomas’ rigorous testing at the skatepark, they develop new parts and systems for wheelchair athletes.

With tyres costing around £70 each, and a replacement wheel priced at £400, WCMX can come with significant expenses. Gloves alone are £25 a pair and can last as little as two days due to intense wear and tear, while top-end chairs can reach £12,000.

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Joanna Woods, Tomas’ mum, said: “There are plenty of challenges, including the price of equipment, having to travel to Salford to reach an accessible skatepark for Tomas, and the cost of competing abroad. But it’s all worth it to see Tomas achieve so much, pursuing his goals as an athlete and as an entrepreneur.”

Said Tomas: “I’m looking forward to competing at the World Championships again at the end of this year, in America, and it would be great to get as much coverage as possible, to drive WCMX to the same level as similar sports.

“If we can get even more people involved at a local level, improving wheelchair accessibility at skateparks in the UK, I’m confident that we can inspire a new generation of WCMX athletes and perhaps even form our own Team GB in due course!”

To keep up to date with Tomas, follow him on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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