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The mother of Olympic gold medalist Charlotte Worthington has said her backflips on trampolines when she was a toddler may have helped her clinch the top spot on the podium in Tokyo.
In a dramatic BMX final, Worthington fell on her first run but landed her first ever groundbreaking 360-degree backflip in a competition to secure the gold medal ahead of the American star Hannah Roberts on Sunday.
Watching anxiously at home were Worthington’s mother, Sarah, her father, John, and their border collie, Rab.
“The phone just went mental as soon as she’d won,” said Sarah. “I knew she’d got a new trick up her sleeve: she worked on that for weeks in Telford where they made a skate park an exact copy of the Tokyo Skate Park.”
Sarah, who lives in Clitheroe, said Worthington’s upbringing in Chorlton, Greater Manchester, helped her to develop her sporting prowess but it was trampolining in particular that could have helped her to land her historic backflip.
“It was a great place for her to grow up, because everything is so close by. I always encouraged lots of sporting activities, from roller skating to kayaking, so she had a very active childhood,” she said.
“From age four-and-a-half, I took her to trampolining at Trafford trampoline club, and she did that a couple of nights a week, doing all the upside down front-flip stuff and I think it all helped with the balance,” she added.
When Worthing started secondary education at Chorlton high school, she would build ramps on the road with all the neighbours’ children kids joining in on their scooters and skateboards.
A little older, she would go to a skate park in nearby Stockport where she met many fellow BMXers and subsequently decided not to go to university after completing her A-levels, instead choosing to work as a runner and glass collector in a restaurant.
“They thought she was a bit of a tomboy and could hold her own so they asked her to work in the kitchen and she loved it, but she always kept this stuff at the skateparks as a hobby on the side,” said Sarah.
Worthington eventually got her breakthrough when she was spotted on the Sky skating and BMX thrill-seeking programme Revolution. In November 2019, she received enough competition points in China to qualify for the Olympics.
“I remember her year 2 teacher saying to me: ‘Charlotte is very individual.’ And that’s always stayed with me. She’s always loved life,” she said.
Shortly after winning, Worthington said: “I think it’s been gold medal or nothing this whole journey. I think as soon as we set the goal of gold medal, it’s go big or go home.
“I’ve learned on the years prior to this, competing, that if you gamble and give yourself that chance it’s going to pay off better – and you’ll feel better than if you hold back and think of what might have been.”
On Sunday morning, Jordan Carter, 28, her former manager at a restaurant in Bury, spoke of his pride. “I feel really proud of her, it’s made me really happy,” he said.
He said that she worked at the restaurant for about six months before leaving to pursue her BMX career, adding: “She was fantastic. We knew she was into BMX and she was going to enter the Olympics.”
Worthington’s former headteacher Zoe Morris, from Chorlton high school, also heaped praise on the Olympic athlete on Twitter, saying her performance was inspirational and stunning.