Worthington's out of the kitchen and into the Olympic fire

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
TOKYO 2020 - ‘THE FIRST TIME EVER!’ – CHARLOTTE WORTHINGTON CLAIMS GOLD WITH HISTORY-MAKING BACKFLIP IN BMX FREESTYLE
TOKYO 2020 - ‘THE FIRST TIME EVER!’ – CHARLOTTE WORTHINGTON CLAIMS GOLD WITH HISTORY-MAKING BACKFLIP IN BMX FREESTYLE

From James Toney in Tokyo

Charlotte Worthington cooks up a mean chiles en nogada but found an experimental new recipe to make Olympic history in Tokyo.

It's just four years since Britain's latest Olympic champion was pulling long shifts as a chef in a Mexican restaurant in Chorlton.

Now she's the first-ever BMX Freestyle gold medallist - and she produced a trick never previously seen to do it, a dizzying, gravity-defying, heart-in-mouth 360 backflip that left rivals shaking their head in disbelief and admiration.

Britain it seems is BMX - these kids from the streets are taking on the world and winning, Worthington joining Bethany Shriever and Kye Whyte, who won gold and silver in BMX racing, while team-mate Declan Brooks took bronze in the men's freestyle competition.

Don't try this at home kids. Actually, do.

TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS - TEAM GB SHINE ON FANTASTIC FRIDAY WITH BMX GLORY AND DRAMA IN THE POOL
TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS - TEAM GB SHINE ON FANTASTIC FRIDAY WITH BMX GLORY AND DRAMA IN THE POOL

Worthington - a 25-year-old 'tomboy who loves extreme sports' - completed the trick for the very first time in a competition arena during practice in Tokyo, a BMX equivalent of the four-minute mile.

But doing it in practice and doing it for real are very different things, especially on the biggest stage.

On her first run, her back wheel caught the top of the ramp, sending Worthington flying over the handlebars into a crumpled heap.

But you need real guts for true glory in this sport and at the second time of asking, she nailed it to secure a score of 97.50 - not bad when the maximum mark is 100.

"It was definitely a gamble and it's amazing when gambles pay off," said Worthington, her competition live on Eurosport and discovery+ .

"I've been working on it for a few months but I've not said anything, I like to keep my cards close to my chest about stuff like this.

"It's been gold medal or nothing for this whole journey - it's go big or go home every day.

"I've learned competing that if you gamble and give yourself that chance, it will pay off better than if you hold back and wonder what could have been.

"I've been all-in since doing that trick in practice and there was no way I wasn't going to try it. It was a huge relief, I sort of zoned out for the rest of the run.

"Our mantra has been to breathe. I know I can do these tricks but mentally you need your head to be calm enough to land them. I just didn't put too much pressure on myself."

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

Worthington only started seriously competing five years ago when she was talent-spotted by eagle-eyed scouts from the British Cycling team.

They were desperately seeking a contender for the Tokyo debut of BMX freestyle, which sees competitors complete a series of spins, tricks and jumps around a course - with just two runs of 60 seconds to impress judges. And in Worthington, they hit the jackpot.

But there was no high-tech performance centre for this cyclist, who spends her days at Corby's 'Adrenaline Alley' perfecting her craft. And no talk of marginal gains either - this is a sport of flips and flows not infinitesimal fractions.

She was watched at home by parents John and Sarah and brother Dominic, who kitted out their house in red, white and blue bunting for a party you had to hope the neighbours were invited to.

"When I was working in the restaurant, BMX wasn't in the Olympics, this was just my passion," she added.

"I just love extreme sports and anything with wheels, I'm up for. Then I met some people from British Cycling and this all snowballed into this amazing journey."

Brooks admitted he had to calm himself after watching his friend’s performance just moments before his competition.

They breed BMXers teak tough, just two months ago Brooks was 'scraped off the floor' attempting a trick at the World Championships - his involvement in Tokyo left in doubt.

TOKYO 2020 - 'IT FEELS AMAZING' - BETHANY SHRIEVER AND KYE WHITE ON THEIR BMX GOLD AND SILVER MEDALS
TOKYO 2020 - 'IT FEELS AMAZING' - BETHANY SHRIEVER AND KYE WHITE ON THEIR BMX GOLD AND SILVER MEDALS

However, he landed the exact same double backflip to take bronze.

"I went a bit crazy when Charlotte got the gold but then it was back to me, she'd done her job and now it was my turn," he said.

"That double backflip was sitting in my head after what happened so it felt really great to land.

"I know every guy could win but that was a long wait to find out about the medal, it was probably only ten minutes but it felt like an hour.

"When I started out this journey of riding BMXs 15 years ago I never thought it would be in the Olympic Games."

The soundtrack to the BMX venue appears to be the entire back catalogue of Nirvana - songs that became anthems for a generation of bored kids that wanted to change the world.

Seems rather appropriate.

Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+, The Streaming Home of the Olympics.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting