I’ll be honest from the start – I don’t follow BMX and I’d never heard of Charlotte Worthington or Hannah Roberts until yesterday. But I’m firmly back-flipping on the BMX bandwagon to celebrate an incredible Freestyle competition that resulted in an astounding gold for Team GB’s Worthington.
First, some context. Roberts is a three-time and reigning world champion from Indiana, USA. She was seeded first in the Olympics and was clear favourite for gold. Worthington, a 25-year-old Mancunian who trains in Corby, is the World bronze-medallist and 2019 European champion who was seeded fourth. She had never beaten Roberts before and has freely admitted that she has been pushed to go bigger with her tricks as a result of Roberts’ dominance of the sport.
So to the Olympic final in Tokyo. In a bid to put down a marker, Worthington tried a backflip 360 – a trick never before achieved in women’s competition – on her first run. She fell. This meant all her medal chances would lie on her second and final run. Roberts completed trick after trick on her first run, posting a very high score of 96.10 and even throwing her bike in wild celebration at the end. As the BBC commentators put it, ‘the gold medal is Hannah Roberts’ to lose’.
And what I loved about this competition was that Hannah Roberts didn’t lose it. Charlotte Worthington won it.
Undeterred from her failed first attempt or the score that Roberts had set at the top of the leaderboard, Worthington came out on her second run and within 8 seconds had landed the backflip 360 – the trick no woman had ever completed in competition. She then proceeded to complete her run with a final 15 seconds that featured three more tricks I couldn’t even imagine attempting (I believe a 360, a front flip and a flare), in a scintillating run which scored a gold-medal winning 97.50.
Not only was it simultaneously exciting and brilliant, but the courage, belief and resilience shown by Charlotte Worthington to go for broke in not only attempting a first in her sport, but in attempting it again in her second run after failing on the first, was more than worthy of my admiration anyway. To nail it and then finish the way she did is definitely a highlight of Tokyo 2020 that I wasn’t expecting!
So huge congratulations to Charlotte and to Hannah Roberts for her silver medal and for being the catalyst that drives her sport forward. I don’t advise trying it at home but here’s a link to the video for you to enjoy. What I do hope you take from this is the courage to try; to push boundaries, to go for gold and to get up and try again when it doesn’t land the first time.
What’s the equivalent of the backflip 360 in your world and how will you unlock your brilliance to achieve it?