GB’s Charlotte Worthington Takes The BMX Scene by Storm

One of the beauties of the Olympic Games is that some of the most iconic moments can happen in sports most of us have never watched before. In the Tokyo Olympics the women’s BMX riders stole the show and our hearts. The sight of silver medalist Kye Whyte holding gold medalist Beth Shriever in his arms was eclipsed only by the never-before-seen in women’s BMXing 360-degree backflip performed by Charlotte Worthington.

Charlotte’s heroics Charlotte Worthington knew she’d need to pull off something special to beat firm favourite Hannah Roberts, whom she’d never beaten before. She found what she thought was the golden ticket – the 360-degree backflip, which she achieved in practise but had yet to perform in competition. On her first run, she flew over her handlebars and landed in a heap. So it was all down to the second run, where the stunt was executed to perfection and she narrowly defeated her American rival to win gold in the BMX freestyle.

Four years ago, the now 25-year-old was working as a chef in a Mexican restaurant. She only took the sport up seriously five years ago, and this was the first Olympics to feature the BMX freestyle event – where you perform spins, tricks and jumps around a course in just one minute.

Two medals in 11 minutes Worthington wasn’t the only medal success in the sport. Kye White won Team GB’s first BMX medal with a silver in the racing event. Then, just 11 minutes later, Beth Shriever won gold in the women’s version of the event. Shriever had needed to crowdfund initially to enter in competitions before she was talent spotted, and her success spiralled from there.

And the medal tally didn’t end there either, with Declan Brooks winning bronze in the Men’s BMX freestyle.

An inspiration for young riders

The sport is in a very different place to where it was just three years ago. In 2018, the women’s BMX programme had no funding and – one might have thought – no prospect for medals. But success breeds success, and while the medal tally will secure increased funding in the upcoming years, the sight of 360-degree backflips will have wowed youngsters nationwide, many of whom might urge their parents to buy them a BMX this Christmas. The sport is exhilarating, but also has its risks, both to rider and vehicle, so purchasing helmet, pads and BMX insurance along with the bike is a good idea.

For a few days, the nation was gripped by the sight of BMX riders bringing glory to Team GB. And who knows what the impact of that success might be for the nation when we hold our breath once more in three years’ time?

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