Charlotte Worthington added to Britain’s BMX success in Tokyo with a surprise gold medal in the women’s freestyle park.
The Manchester-born 25-year-old fell after a hard landing early in her first run in the park discipline – two 60-second attempts along an obstacle course of ramps and walls, with the best score the one that counts.
But she picked herself up to produce a spectacular second go, scoring 97.50 and stunning the favourite, the three-time world champion, Hannah Roberts, who had to settle for silver. The highlight for Worthington was a 360 backflip, the first time a woman has landed it in competition.
The 19-year-old American Roberts looked to have done enough to add an Olympic gold to her long list of titles after a first run of 96.10 left her well clear of her rivals, but Worthington produced an ambitious set of balletic, gravity-defying tricks in 31C heat on her second try, and after a long wait for the judges to deliver their verdict, she took the lead.
The pressure switched to Roberts, the last rider to compete, and after a strong start she fell awkwardly on landing and called a halt to her attempt, sparking wild celebrations from the British contingent.
Olympic gold caps a remarkable rise for the former chef in a Mexican restaurant, who graduated to BMX after receiving a scooter as a Christmas present aged 13.
Bethany Shriever took gold for Team GB in the women’s BMX racing a couple of days earlier, with Peckham’s Kye Whyte claiming silver in the men’s competition.
Worthington told the BBC: “It’s kind of unreal. I’m waiting to wake up now. I’ve been dreaming about this for four years and it still feels like I’m dreaming.”
Full report to follow…