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A Women's Sports Alliance Production

Charlotte Worthington MBE is a British cyclist and Olympic gold medallist who competes internationally in Freestyle BMX


Charlotte became the first ever British woman to win a world medal in the discipline with a bronze at the World Championships in Chengdu.

She capped off her meteoric rise by claiming Tokyo 2020 Olympic glory with a gold medal in the women's BMX Freestyle Park.

Charlotte Worthington | Adrenaline Alley | BMX Freestyle | Women's Sports Alliance
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“There’s a split second when you’re floating through the air where you feel weightless and free,” Olympic champion Charlotte Worthington tells the WSA. “You’re at peace, even when you’re upside down and can see the floor coming at you!”


Some might call her ‘crazy’ but she would disagree. A dare-devil? Perhaps…


“There was that one time I had a really major concussion, but scary things happen all the time at a skatepark,” she says with a smile.


“The whole reason I like to get scared is so I can work out how to overcome it.”


The freestyle BMX star certainly found the winning formula last summer at Tokyo 2020 where her sport made its Olympic debut and she became its first-ever Olympic champion. 

It was a title - and breath-taking performance - which saw her voted ‘Athlete of the Year’ at the inaugural WSA Awards Celebration 2021, an honour she says “means so much!”


“To receive a real award like this for BMX, which is such a niche sport, makes me want to accept it on behalf of all the women and men in the sport, not just me,” says Charlotte.


“It’s really taken so many people for it to get to the Olympics so thank you to everyone that went before me and has allowed me to receive the Women’s Sports Alliance (WSA) Athlete of the Year – thank you!”

Charlotte’s love for the extreme sport began just over a decade ago. She received a scooter for Christmas and after mastering a host of tricks she progressed onto the BMX – despite the peer-pressure she was facing at the time.

“People at school would call me stupid names like ‘Scoots McGee’ and they just didn’t get me,” she recalls. “I’m definitely not a ‘girly-girl’ but they thought I was weird.”


The Olympic champion is undoubtedly the one laughing now, but at that point there was not even the suggestion that freestyle BMX would be included at future Games.

After leaving college Worthington found work as a glass collector before being moved into the kitchens and becoming a chef at a Mexican restaurant in Manchester.


Under pressure to attract new, younger, fans in 2016 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) added a host of ‘fresh’ sports for the Tokyo 2020 Games, with freestyle BMX joined by fellow debutants skateboarding, 3v3 basketball, sport climbing and surfing.

British Cycling soon identified Charlotte’s talent and funding support enabled the rider to give up her 40-hour-a-week full-time job and move to Corby, in the Midlands, which was home to the world-leading freestyle complex – Adrenaline Alley.


Historic British and European titles followed in 2019 before World bronze later that year underlined her genuine Olympic medal potential.


Delivering at the Games themselves – which were postponed by 12 months due to the pandemic – was far from guaranteed though.

“My coach and I had made the run and we always said that if I could pull it off then it was going to be first or second place, but you never know,” states Charlotte.


“A good run would be a good result (medal), but if not, I’d be on the floor.


“For each trick I have one or two key instructions in my head like ‘tap the break a little bit’ or ‘make sure you spin over your right shoulder’ and it’s for a high-pressure environment which helps me focus a little easier.

“There was only one conversation I had during the middle of the run. It was before I landed the wall ride and I thought ‘am I going fast enough?’ You have these split-second thoughts and then it was ‘of course I’m going fast enough’ because you have no option you’re at the Olympics, you’ve kind of got to do it!”


“I got to the end of my run and it felt like I just blanked out the whole time and I couldn’t really believe what had happened.


“I just saw my coach across the skatepark just jumping up and down like crazy and it was just still sinking in until we got that score. It was just amazing and it felt unreal!”

If you’re feeling inspired by Charlotte Worthington’s success story, here’s why she thinks you should try out freestyle BMX yourself.


“What I love about BMX is how inclusive it is and how much you learn about yourself doing it,” she tells the Women’s Sports Alliance. for me I find coaching golf so powerful.”


“Everyone when they’re going down the ramp for the first time, or going upside down for the first time, has this heart-sinking moment and you’ll feel like you’re in so much danger, but you gradually learn to trust yourself and you learn how to really get over your fears.


“Honestly they’re skills that you can take with you anywhere in life as well as having a really good time with your friends at the skating park.”

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