Merk argiewe: Worthington

Charlotte Worthington hopes BMX capitalises on successful Olympics

Charlotte Worthington hopes BMX capitalises on successful Olympics
Worthington won gold in the women’s freestyle, while Declan Brooks took bronze in the men’s event.

Olimpiese BMX freestyle champion Charlotte Worthington wants the sport to capitalise on the success she and team-mate Declan Brooks brought to Groot Brittanje at the Tokio Olimpiese Spele.

Freestyle was something of a niche discipline until Worthington lit up the Games with an unprecedented 360 backflip to win gold, moments before Brooks claimed bronze in the men’s event to continue the celebrations.

Life has been a whirlwind for both since. Brooks needed two hours to cover the final half mile of his journey home from Tokyo to Portchester as hundreds of well-wishers lined the road wanting pictures and autographs.

Worthington now has a cocktail launched in her honour at the Chorlton bar where she used to work as a chef – if not currently the time to go and enjoy one as the demands keep coming.

Both received a hero’s welcome at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester on Thursday – with BMX racing gold medallist Beth Shriever among those waiting to surprise them.

“Now we know the magnitude of an Olympics,” Brooks told the PA news agency. “We knew it was big, but we didn’t think BMX would have that impact.”

The task now is to bottle the moment and make it count for the future.

British Cycling – which has already announced a new BMX commission since the closing of the Games – had to persuade UK Sport that women’s BMX was worth funding in this Olympic cycle, but such has been the success, the question now is how much further the sport can grow.

Worthington performed an unprecedented 360 backflip in Tokyo on her way to gold (Mike Egerton / PA)

“With myself and Declan’s results and the whole team effort behind the scenes, you can’t ignore the results, you can’t ignore the demand for it and the attention from the general public,” said Worthington.

“That is only going to create more opportunities – it already has done with the new (kommissie) being announced. Hopefully that just inspires more kids, not necessarily to take the Olympic route, but just to pick up a BMX, go to the skate park and enjoy it. That is what BMX is all about.”

Worthington made headlines around the world as she won gold with the first 360 backflip performed in women’s competition.

Having raised the bar once, the question is what might come next.

“We kept the backflip very much on the down low," sy het gese. “We had a codename for it when we were training so the competition didn’t hear about it. We’ve been calling it the ‘Ferrari’ for most of the time.

“I was thinking I was going to release everything I’ve been working on after the Olympics but now I think with the impact it had keeping it as a surprise, I’ll keep things close to my chest.

“I’ll just need some more codenames. What other cars are there? Maybe an Aston Martin?”

For Brooks, the huge response to their success has helped him realise the scale of his achievement – he won bronze in Tokyo just eight weeks after suffering a horror crash in Montpellier which almost ended the Olympic dream.

“After the response it does sink in a bit, but it’s still surreal," hy het gesê. “It was actually me winning – that still feels weird. It’s like it happened to someone else. Even if I’m walking around with a medal in my pocket.”

Both now plan a few weeks off the bike, but with only three years until the Paris Games there is little time for these 25-year-olds to rest.

Brooks has his sights set on the 2023 world championships in Glasgow, while a rainbow jersey is also missing from Worthington’s collection.

“My main goal is Paris," sy het gese. “I’ve had a national championship and a European championship and now an Olympic championship, but I haven’t had a world championship.

“That would be nice to get in there.”