Charlotte Worthington (GBR) and Logan Martin (AUS) are the first ever Olympic Champions for BMX Freestyle Park. The sensational action at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo saw intense competition throughout the men’s and women’s events with the thrilling final runs laying down huge score
“I’m over the moon," said Charlotte Worthington. "I’m still sitting here waiting to wake up. I’ve been thinking about this day for the past three or four years, just going in and out of thinking ‘I can’, or ‘I can’t’ do it. I’m literally waiting to wake up right now. It feels like a dream.
“I won the seeding run, then came out here and my first run was actually a safety run," explained Logan Martin. "I wanted to land a run I knew I could deliver, make it clean, keep it consistent, and that really paid off.”
The sun came out for the historical day at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Sunday. After the previous day’s seeding phase, where the starting order was determined, the finals proved to be a step up in level: with the 'two runs, best run counts' format the riders gave it their all in the final with two attempts each to show their best riding.
First women’s 360 backflip in competition
Hannah Roberts (USA) had made her mark during seeding and was the clear favourite for the first BMX Freestyle Olympic gold medal. Her first run, which included a Truckdriver over the spine, a double whip on the box, a backflip over the spine plus a flair, was celebrated as if she had just won the gold medal. The 96.10 score would be hard to beat.
The pressure that comes with the event is huge and to deliver when it counts is a real challenge. Charlotte Worthington started her first run with the biggest tricks she can do. It did not work out as she crashed on a 360 backflip, a trick that had never been completed by a female rider in competition. Getting back on the platform for her second run to send it again took some guts… but as soon as she dropped in it clicked. That 360 backflip over the jump box worked and got everyone on their feet, acknowledging what is ahead in the future of women’s BMX Freestyle. But the British rider kept going and going and going. She backflipped the spine, front-flipped the box, pulled a 360 over the spine and flaired into the wall without any problems. That smile on her face told stories and just got even bigger after the score came up on the big screen.
Roberts had one run to beat Worthington's leading score of 97.50 but the triple UCI World Champion came up short, recognising her early mistake and aborting her second run. The gold medal went to Great Britain instead of the USA.
With a score of 89.20 in her first run, Nikita Ducarroz (SUI) claimed bronze. To get there she had shown a huge 360 cancan over the box, did a no-hander over the spine, a 540 spin on the quarter pipe and a flip on the box jump. The rest of the world has now witnessed the possibilities for women’s BMX Freestyle and can prepare for future events.
History made in trick-packed men’s final
It was expected that in the men’s final the level of tricks would go through the roof: battling for the podium positions, and with two options for a perfect run, there was no holding back. Footage was collected from all angles during the Games, contributing to the final show. The goal was to make BMX Freestyle Park look amazing and the riding lived up to it…
Unfortunately Nick Bruce (USA) had a crash during practice and did not recover soon enough to show what he can do. For him now, the next goal is Paris 2024. America's Justin Dowell gambled: his all-or-nothing attitude was looking great in his first run, until a mistake put him into spot 8. But from here onwards the riding was on another level.
Anthony Jeanjean (FRA) did not want to wait for a second chance in Paris, and went all-in. His first run was full of energy with flairs and tailwhips to net 7th place. A score of 82.40 for Irek Rizaev (ROC) in his second run got him 6th, close behind Rim Nakamura, the Japanese rider performing ‘at home’. Kenneth Tencio (CRC) held a medal position with 90.50 before being bumped down the ranking.
In the end the medals went to Great Britain, Venezuela and Australia. Declan Brooks' bronze made GBR the first country to have won medals in all cycling disciplines at the Olympic Games. The Brit 720’d the spine, double-flipped the box straight afterwards and rode lines nobody else did. He added a turndown frontflip to his run and used the course in a different way. His score came in at 90.80, edging out Tencio to occupy third position.
Aged 36, BMX Freestyle vetaran Daniel Dhers (VEN) did what he does best; deliver under pressure. The judges' score of 92.05 was well earned. What it took was a run full of tricks such as a 720 cancan 1-hander, 360 double whip, a front flip on the big spine, and a flair tailwhip among the other 15 tricks. For Dhers to win Olympic silver is the icing on the cake.
After a calculated first run full of bangers, double and reigning UCI World Champion Logan Martin did not have to step up the level in run 2: he had already claimed the gold and could head into a victory run. Logan's consistency of delivering high level tricks is unparalleled. He had one task and that was to claim the gold in Tokyo – and his winning run will be replayed and enjoyed all around the world.