Olympics-Cycling-Britain's Worthington wins historic BMX women's freestyle gold


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© Reuters. Tokyo 2020 Olympics – BMX Freestyle – Women’s Park – Final – Ariake Urban Sports Park, Tokyo, Japan – August 1, 2021. Charlotte Worthington of Britain celebrates winning gold. REUTERS/Matthew Childs

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By Martyn Herman

TOKYO (Reuters) -Former chef Charlotte Worthington served up the ride of her life as the Briton became the first-ever Olympic champion in BMX freestyle at the Ariake Urban Sports Park on Sunday.

The 25-year-old crashed in the first of her two runs in the final but landed a sensational range of tricks in her second to shoot to the top of the leaderboard with a score of 97.50.

American favourite Hannah Roberts, who scored 96.10 in a superb first run and looked set for gold, could not improve in her second run and had to settle for silver.

Swiss Nikita Ducarroz took the bronze.

Worthington, who only began concentrating on BMX three years ago having worked in a Mexican restaurant in Manchester, saved her best to last on a baking hot morning.

Although she crashed in her first 60-second run around the course, the format of the final meant the worst run was discounted. So she still had a chance.

Knowing she had to pull off something special to surpass the 96.1 Roberts managed in her first ride, Worthington landed the 360 backflip that had been her undoing earlier, then nailed an audacious forward flip that ultimately edged it her way.

Worthington hugged coach Jamie Bestwick as her score flashed up but Roberts still had her second run.

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But when the world champion made an early mistake she abandoned her ride and the Brits’ celebrations began.

“I’m over the moon. I’m still sitting here waiting to wake up,” Worthington said. “It feels like a dream.”

On how she pulled off her second run, she said: “I just tried to take it one trick at a time. It was tough to get back up there after falling on my first run.”

Her win continued an incredible few days for Britain at the BMX park after Bethany Shriever won the BMX racing gold with Kye Whyte taking a silver.

BMX freestyle was added to the Olympic programme in 2017 and is making its debut in Tokyo.

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