Charlotte Worthington, a 25-year-old BMX rider from Manchester, England. In the summer of 2021, she wrote history at the Olympic Games of Tokyo. Not only by becoming the first Olympic champion at the Freestyle BMX event but also by becoming the first lady who stomped a back-flip 360 in competition.
Please introduce yourself and how did you become a BMX athlete?
I’m Charlotte Worthington, BMX Freestyle Olympic Champion, and my story isn’t a typical one. I grew up in Manchester UK, always loved anything with wheels that involved tricks, and at the age of 12, I found stunt scooters. I was in love! This became my hobby for my teens, I was always surrounded by BMX at the skatepark which I dabbled with now and then. I left school and got a job as a cook in a Mexican restaurant to fund my hobby, it was around this time 19/20 years old I was feeling a little done riding scooters, I wanted a new challenge, for it to be fresh again. I picked up my BMX and it’s like every trick was exciting and new again! I’m 25 now, so the BMX journey snowballed to the Olympics, from a contest to a tv show, to try out for the Olympic team. I was extremely lucky to quit my job at 21 and go all-in on my BMX, if you have the chance, why not!?
You are the first Olympic Champion BMX Freestyle, What comes to your mind when you think about it?
Whenever I reminisce about the Olympics I get flooded with emotions. Not just the success on the day, but all the hurdles that lead to that day and the people I shared the experience with. So much pride and love, especially because I had so much help from the amazing people around me, and now the people I’ve connected with and inspired since.
How did it feel when you got your Olympic invitation?
For me, the milestone was when I qualified for the Olympics by getting on the podium at the 2019 World championships. That was such an achievement, I could see the work coming together and it was a weight off my shoulders to have secured that spot. I was the only girl representing the UK in BMX Freestyle, so it was a given I was going, but bloody awesome to get that message.
You landed the 360 Backflip. Were you sure you could make it during the tournament or was it more an impulse to just give it a try?
The plan was always to stick to the plan haha, so I knew I was going to try it, but whether it would pull off, I couldn’t guarantee that. It’s a pretty new trick, so there was a chance it would go wrong, which it did, but thankfully that added to the drama when it went right. That’s the benefit of getting up and trying again!
How do you prepare yourself on competition day?
I keep things pretty mellow, after a lot of practice I’ve figured out what works for me on contest day. I’ve made the mistakes of being too amped up and too relaxed, you live and learn!
How is your life after becoming an Olympic champion? Did anything change for you?
Different. I’m taking advantage of as many media events as possible for the exposure of BMX and women in sport, I’ve been so lucky to work with some amazing people and made a lot of memories. But when full-time training kicks back in (which I’m looking forward to!) I’m sure it will go back to mellow cold winter sessions in no time
How often do you train and what is important to focus on whilst training?
It depends on the time of year and what we have coming up, usually 5 times a week alongside gym and cardio. Often during training, I’ll just remind myself how grateful I am to be riding a BMX right now!
How do you handle days when you are unmotivated to practice?
We all have those days, I think you have to get what you can out of those days and be in the present. I have a lot of goals and am always in a rush, so I better stick some good music on and get moving on that day.
What was your biggest setback so far?
My biggest setback has been an ongoing shoulder injury, I was just recovering when Covid hit and forced me to have even more time off the bike. It happened again just before the games too, however, this setback has been a total blessing in making me stronger and the person I needed to be. It forced me to face a lot of challenges, mainly mental over physical. I’m grateful for that.
What's the most important thing when you think about riding the BMX?
Have fun with your friends. That’s what it’s all about, and has to be about. It’s never a chore, it’s a blessing.
What is it all about for BMX Freestyle and where do you see the sport in a few years?
Freestyle is all about that adrenaline rush of landing a new trick, the satisfaction of doing your favorite one, and the feeling of floating through the air, and even better when you help your friends to achieve that. In the future; the women's side has some very exciting progress to be made, we’re fast following in the footsteps of the boys. As for the men's, the level is insane, those tricks that seemed impossible a couple of years ago are becoming the daily norm, competition is tough on both sides!
Is there anything you do to bring your sport a bit closer to the people, like younger girls for example?
Since the games I’ve done a few meets and greets, that's been awesome to meet the youngsters and hear about their experience watching the Olympics, their stories inspire me! Next year I’ll likely be doing lots more of these and getting BMX accessible for those young ladies to feel inspired too.
What's up for you next? Are there any current projects you have or upcoming ones?
Next year looks pretty busy with contests, I’m looking forward to getting back in there with everyone and traveling the world! Next year there’s a couple of projects I’d like to bring to fruition too.
Do you have hobbies besides your sport?
I love photography, I’ll get out to the middle of nowhere with my film camera and snap away.
How does a normal day look like?
Nothing too special! Coffee in the mornings, head over to the gym, lunch, BMX, recovery. Keep it simple,
Turn-ons: Mindfulness, teaching others at the skatepark, pop-punk music
Turn-offs: No manners, fake people, raw tomatoes, bleh!
You used to work as a chef in different restaurants. What is your favorite Food and Drink and is it best when you make it by yourself or is it ok when someone else makes it for you?
My favorite food has to be anything Italian, I never get bored of pasta or lasagna! I can’t cook it amazingly, I was more of a cook running a kitchen, I can follow a recipe but no genius in the kitchen. Drink, I’m a sucker for a cocktail or red wine recently.
Are you more of a pusher or a laid-back?
Laidback, I’m always late, I need pushing.
Introvert or extrovert?
Always thought I was an introvert, I think growing up I was, but since riding BMX and taking opportunities my self-confidence has grown, now everyone says I’m an extrovert. But I love time to myself.
What are you not good at?
Golf, dancing, spelling, football, history & geography, general knowledge, I came last every zoom quiz.
What is your current favorite song/playlist that you could listen to over and over again?
My Ex’s Best Friend by Machine gun Kelly, but I always mix up my playlists from pop-punk to rap to 80’s rock.
What do people around say about you?
That I’m always late, can be hella moody, my coach calls me a princess, they’ve said some incredibly nice things too like I’m thoughtful and hardworking.
Who is your idol/role model and why?
My coach Jamie Bestwick, I was going to write Logan Martin or Micheal Jordan, but Jamie has inspired me more than anyone, and to follow in his footsteps with his guidance has been incredible. If could be half the rider he is would be an achievement!
What else should the world know about you?
I wish people asked more about who has helped me along the way, everyone hears all about me, but there are so many people, companies, and helping hands I couldn’t have done this without, they deserve the glory.
What are you especially looking forward to when you look into the future?
Opportunities to come from the people I’ve started working with and building their relationships
Any last words?
Find your passion, grab it with both hands and follow the journey! You never know where it could take you, in the end, it’s always a happy life doing what you want to do!