August 1, 2021
By Martyn Herman
TOKYO (Reuters) – Britain’s Charlotte Worthington won the first ever Olympic gold medal in BMX freestyle with a sensational second run at the Ariake Urban Sports Park on Sunday.
Worthington crashed in her first run in the final but produced an incredible range of tricks to top the leaderboard with a score of 97.50.
American favourite Hannah Roberts, who scored 96.10 in a superb first run, could not improve in her second run and settled for silver.
Swiss Nikita Ducarroz took the bronze.
The 25-year-old Worthington, who gave up a career as a chef to compete in BMX having initially ridden scooters, saved her best until last to snatch gold.
It looked nailed on for world champion Roberts after she dazzled the judges with a sizzling first run – celebrating by hurling her bike across the park.
But each of the nine riders got two 60-second runs with only the best score counting, so when Worthington crashed attempting a rare 360 degree backflip she was not out of the running.
Shortly afterwards she produced the ride of her life.
She landed the 360 backflip and then towards the end of her run she nailed a forward flip – an audacious move that ultimately edged it her way.
Worthington celebrated wildly with coach Jamie Bestwick, a BMX freestyle great, as her score appeared.
She still had to wait to see what Roberts could pull out of the hat, but the 19-year-old American lost momentum early in her second run and abandoned it – sparking wild celebrations from the British camp.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Himani Sarkar)