Britain’s Charlotte Worthington springs BMX freestyle upset to win Olympic gold

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<span>Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA</span>
Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

Charlotte Worthington added to Britain’s BMX success in Tokyo with a surprise gold medal in the women’s freestyle park, before her team-mate Declan Brooks, 25, then took bronze in the men’s event.

Worthington, 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.

Related: Shriever and Whyte cap remarkable journey to BMX gold and silver for GB

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.”

As Worthington cheered him on from the stands, Brooks, 25, from Portsmouth, who almost failed to make the Olympics after being knocked unconscious while attempting a double back flip at the world championships in Montpellier in June, took the bronze in the men’s event. Australia’s Logan Martin took gold.

Full report to follow…

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