Crash landing fails to deter BMX champ Charlotte Worthington
They say if you can't stand the heat then get out of the kitchen, but British BMX freestyler Charlotte Worthington was as cool as a cucumber on a baking Tokyo morning to claim a dramatic Olympic gold medal yesterday.
With temperatures soaring into the high 30s deg C, the former Mexican restaurant chef gambled on executing a trick never managed before in a female BMX competition.
When she crash-landed painfully trying to do a 360-degree backflip - a head-spinning move that defies physics - it seemed she had bitten off more than she could chew.
Third-last out of nine after her first run and with favourite Hannah Roberts out alone at the top with 96.10 points from a sizzling first run, Worthington needed the ride of her life, and more, to topple the American.
Undaunted, Worthington nailed the trick second time round, having kept it a closely guarded secret all week after managing it in training this week at the Ariake Urban Sport Park.
Flowing over the ramps with moves known as barspins and tailwhips, she then pulled off a forward flip that probably sealed the deal - earning her a massive 97.50 from the judges.
"It was incredible. I've not been doing that trick for that long, but we've been trying to find that big banger trick and when we found it, we were like, 'I think this is the one'," Worthington said after snatching gold.
"We set the target of the gold medal and it was either go big or go home."
Worthington, who used to work 40 hours a week in a Manchester restaurant cooking fajitas, told reporters: "I've learned in the years prior to this when competing that if you gamble and give yourself that chance, then it can pay off and you'll feel better than if you hold back."
British Cycling invests huge amounts of money into track cycling, which starts today, but the performances of the BMX riders have been a revelation.
Britain's Bethany Shriever won the BMX women's race and Kye Whyte took a silver in the men's event.
Declan Brooks then added a bronze in the men's freestyle event yesterday. - REUTERS