TOKYO 2020: Charlotte Worthington on representing Team GB
Chaz Worther talks us through the road to the Olympics
Looking at the past few years since we first heard of Charlotte Worthington, it’s clear she’s one of the UK’s most promising riders. As women’s BMX has blown us away with its incredibly exciting rate of progression, so has Charlotte, because she’s in there helping drive that progression.
The first impression we got from Charlotte was that she was a young rider from Manchester who showed some good promise, drive and commitment. We knew that Charlotte was one to watch. Bas Keep also quickly recognised that, and so she joined the good guys at Tall Order, went on some trips, pushed her riding even more. That early influence from the team no doubt gave her a solid foundation to drive ahead as she gained more and more skill on a bike.
Now, several years further down the line, after a sponsor change to Hyper, many FISE / UCI events, some proper athlete training, loads of coaching from the man Jamie Bestwick, Charlotte Worthington is an olympian in BMX Freestyle Park.
Read on for her thoughts going into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Photos: Adam Lievesley
Q&A with Charlotte Worthington
– Congrats Charlotte! Has being an Olympian settled in yet or are you still hyped?
Hiya! And thank you! I think since all the loose ends started coming together it’s settling in, and I’m really excited to see it through!
– Have you known for a while or was it sudden news that you were going to Tokyo?
I have known for a while, although around COVID starting everything went up in the air. During that time I had to just treat it as if it were going ahead to stay on track.
– For people who haven’t been following the UCI stuff, could you explain how it works, like how you ended up getting a place?
For the two years prior to the Olympics there’s qualifying competitions such as the FISE Series and championships, We travel to these comps and gather points as a country based off of where we finish. Top points going to 1st and then downwards, and the World Cup podium results are guaranteed a place in the qualification.
– What kind of work have you been putting in since joining the British cycling programme? Seems like a lot of training, trips to the USA, banter with Bestwick… Talk us through it.
Joining the program feels like a long time now! I feel like this program has transformed me as a person as well as a rider. I found each one of my trips to the states and spending time at Woodward with the Bestwicks life changing really, and I’m extremely grateful. I’ve learned a lot about competing (from the best!), confidence and life as a professional athlete alongside riding BMX.
– Are there any changes now you’re officially with team GB? Is it the same as before or do you have new people around you / new commitments?
The work still goes on, it’s just the official name that’s changed, and some cool kit!
– Tell us about your prep for Tokyo. With regards to fitness, diet, how much you’re riding, where you’re riding, what you’re focusing on?
I’m definitely trying to stay on the ‘lean’ side going into the games, it’s gonna be hot! And we’re riding a lot dialling in our tricks for the games, mostly at Adrenaline Alley and The Asylum, those guys have been great for looking after us through this whole thing!
“I think there could be a brief sigh of relief when all the riders get there after this long journey, but then it will be on!”
– What are you expecting from the event? Assuming you’ve seen the course and have already been riding the exact same obstacles at different events?
We have ridden a lot of Hurricane parks now and we know they’re never short of big ramps, I don’t think anything changes here but the course looks really creative, I’m excited to ride it!
– What about the atmosphere and extra level of competitive buzz from the other riders?
I think there could be a brief sigh of relief when all the riders get there after this long journey, but then it will be on!
– I guess the crowd situation is going to be quite tame. Do you think you’ll miss the kind of hype you get from a big crowd like at FISE Montpellier? Or do you just focus and block the world out?
It’s always nice to hear people enjoying the show, but once you drop in that kinda disappears anyway.
– Do you think it’ll still be fun out there? Or strictly business?
I think you’ve got to keep it fun! It’s still BMX at the end of the day and you’re going to do your best when you’re enjoying it.
– Weird question… Do you see riding day-in-day-out like a job now? Or do you still feel like it’s just a fun session with friends? Do you go for normal sessions between ‘training’ to balance it out?
I definitely like to balance out the serious sessions with the normal ones, it’s something I really missed during COVID. Like I said BMX is fun and you gotta keep it that way, I love pushing myself and learning new tricks but it can get gruelling if that’s all you’re doing.
– Womens BMX continues to go from strength to strength, it seems like every event or even every time we open instagram there’s a new trick being sent! Would you agree, and do you feel that in your riding?
Definitely. Women’s BMX is breaking new boundaries and from the start it’s been a race to see who can get those next level tricks in a contest, I know a lot of guys that are more excited about what’s going to come out in the next women’s event over the men’s!
“I think you’ve got to keep it fun! It’s still BMX at the end of the day and you’re going to do your best when you’re enjoying it”
– Have you eyed up anything on the Tokyo course yet? How will you plan your run, with Jamie, or with Dec, or is it all down to you, how does it work? Do you try and think of some lines / combos that will stand out or does that just kind of happen naturally?
There’s some really cool looking lines and opportunities looking at the course design, we always go in with some ideas but you need an open mind when you get there. We will see how it rides and what’s possible when we get there really; I’ll be discussing ideas with Jamie and Dec, those guys are so great and really inspirational for me.
– Thanks for your time! Any shoutouts or messages you want to get on record here?
You’re welcome! I just want to thank everyone that’s played a part in this journey, I was very new to all this and couldn’t have done it without help! So to the riders I’ve met and competed against across the world, the friendships and support through British Cycling, the rest of the guys on the team, and especially the Bestwick family… THANK YOU! Peace!
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