The Olympic champion landed the trick in her first ever competition, and it was only one of three gold medals secured by Team GB on the day.
|Dates: July 23rd to August 8th, Tokyo time: BST +8|
|Watch on TV, iPlayer, Red Button, and online; listen on Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra, and Sounds; and read live text and video snippets on the Sport website and app.|
Charlotte Worthington was rolling burritos five years ago, and now she’s closed up one of the most incredible moments in BMX history.
In the women’s freestyle category, the 360 backflip had been the holy grail, having never been landed in a competition before – until today.
Worthington of Team GB got it with her second attempt only 30 minutes after hitting the deck with her first attempt at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, spinning her bike and body like a gyroscope before letting the tyres touch the ground.
“Charlotte has unlocked Pandora’s box, revealing a new level. It was a game-changer, to say the least “Jon Taylor, a BMX rider who has created many feats, is a sports pundit.
The 360 backflip, often known as the Zakflip after its inventor Zach Shaw, was the pinnacle of Worthington’s world-class, gold-medal winning performance, which earned a 97.50 from the judges, the highest score in both the men’s and women’s competitions.
It was the crowning achievement of Great Britain’s outstanding BMX campaign in Tokyo, which included two gold medals, a silver, and a bronze.
“It was fantastic. I haven’t done that trick in a long time, but we’ve been looking for that huge banger trick, and when we discovered it, we were like, ‘I believe this is it.’ “”I used to work at a Mexican restaurant in Manchester,” said Worthington, 25.
“We established the goal of a gold medal, and it was either go big or go home,” says the team.
It’s a technique that’s more difficult to pull off than it is to describe.
“It’s straight up the jump and backflipping when you do a normal backflip. You’re really spinning off axis and performing a 360 upside-down with the 360 flip “Taylor said.
“Things might have gone a lot worse with the first try. I’ve seen a number of individuals get really injured as a result of that tactic.
“You’re upside-down and whirling, and it’s really blinding.” With a backflip, you usually have the sky or roof to help you figure out where you are and where you’ll land.
“However, with the 360, everything is wild because you watch the ramp turn around and then you twist back into the landing.”
Worthington’s version was particularly remarkable since it occurred so soon after her first severe fall.
Taylor claimed she had only done it a “few times” in training on the forgiving rubber surface and had just done it for the first time in practice in Tokyo, which “lit up the internet and was all over Instagram.”
With her starting position at the bottom of the scoreboard for her second performance, a cautious, bronze-medal routine may have been the prudent choice. Worthington and his instructor, BMX freestyle pioneer Jamie Bestwick, had different plans.
“I’ve learnt that if you take a chance and risk it, it may pay off, and you’ll feel better than if you don’t,” she added.
“It’s been a couple months since I’ve worked on it. In these circumstances, I keep my cards close to my chest because it pays off.”
It was perhaps the only tactic Worthington could have used to keep American Hannah Roberts, a three-time world champion, from extending her freestyle domination.
In the process, she has associated herself with a watershed event in the sport.
“She’s not only the first woman to accomplish it in a competition, but she’s the first woman I’ve ever seen perform that trick anywhere,” Taylor added.
“She’s the one to beat now.” Hannah has held that mantle for a long time, and Charlotte would not have done it if it weren’t for Hannah, who has pushed her to do it.
“What she accomplished was so stylish that it was significant not just for women’s BMX but for BMX in general.”
Where can Worthington go now that he’s pulled off the greatest trick in the game?
“The beauty is that you can produce the 720 version as well,” Taylor said.
“I don’t believe what she’s accomplished in BMX will set in until she comes home and sees what the community is saying, which is ‘this is crazy.’”