Flying Flinty on how salmon, fitness and family have shaped his future. Exclusive by Phil Lanning
O IFISH ‘N’ RI
T was a bitterly cold minus 31 and hundreds of salmon are coming off a conveyor belt ready to be sliced.
At this precise point, Leon Flint had his fishy epiphany; to scale the heights of speedway.
The Berwick kid, 18, couldn’t even feel his fingers; it was so cold in the factory job to bring in a few quid over the winter. But the perspective was priceless. At the weekend, it was back from the chills to thrills. Flinty was once again at his fluid best on a bike, such an exciting rider to watch, throwing his arms and legs around like a pacy, pulsating octopus of Shielfield Park.
can’t even use them, so it was brutal.
“When I was working, I had so much time to think when I was standing there. Pretty much all the other staff were foreign, so I also had no one to talk to.
“I was just thinking, ‘I do not want to be here for the rest of my life’. “Some of the other people have been there for 15 years. No disrespect to them whatsoever but it just makes me even more motivated to make the most of what I’ve got in speedway.
“I was already motivated after the British Under-21 meeting at Berwick at the end of last season. But working in the factory gave me an extra kick up the backside.
“I do what I enjoy for a job. If I knuckle down, I can make a very good living out of it.”
It was a long-awaited first skid of 2021 for the Berwick Bullets’ press and practice day, the local boy the undoubted star attraction.
Flint has come a long way from the peachy-cheeked boy who romped all before him in the British Youth Championships at the backend of the last decade. It was just a bit of goggles and giggles then.
Now it’s serious stuff. Now it’s about making a living. That salmon enchanted evening had a huge effect on him, he admits: “Just after the New Year I worked in a salmon factory just to bring a bit more money in. I was picking up the fish on a belt after it had been in a room of minus 31, something mental, to freeze it.
“I’d then take the fish and put it on the slicing machine. But I’ve got Raynaud’s disease and my hands get really cold. If they get really cold I
NE aspect of Flint that has changed dramatically is his fierce drive to be ultra-fit. Before the pandemic, his job in a gym saw him get incredibly ripped.
It’s another part of being professional that he has realised comes as part of the job. He added: “The last few seasons I trained very hard but as soon as we got into the racing it was like, ‘we’ll just get a McDonald’s or KFC’. Like nine times out of 10, that’s what every rider does. I don’t care what anyone says.
“At the end of any meeting, five riders out of any team will get takeaway food. We worked it out in the last full year in 2019, I spent about £900 on just fast food after the meeting. I pay for my mechanics as well. That is absolutely ridiculous.
“Most of last year I just made some food, went to a services after a meeting and used their microwave. It was as easy as that.
4 speedway star April 10, 2021
Pictures: TAYLOR LANNING