Hannah Roberts of Team USA was on fire under the Tokyo sun, capturing a silver medal at BMX Freestyle’s debut at the Summer Olympics with a blistering first run for the ages.
The reigning three-time world champion topped qualifying first at Friday’s seeding round with a first run worthy of the international stage. She packed in tricks at a blistering pace, opening with a backflip barspin. She finished up with a backflip over a short spine and flare before throwing her bike to the ground, erupting into joyous tears.
The run earned her a 96.10 score, making her the first rider in the field to score over 90 in Olympic competition. If not for an equally impressive recovery by Great Britain’s Charlotte Worthington during her second run, complete with a front flip and 360-backflip, Roberts easily would have captured gold.
Roberts ended her second run early after apparently injuring her ankle after landing a double tailspin short on the spine transfer. She remained in high spirits as she limped off the course.
“My first run was good and I know there were places I could improve. I slipped up and hurt my ankle,” Roberts told BBC following the competition. “I’m honored to take second place to Charlotte. Women’s park BMX - backflip 360 - so many people doing world’s first tricks. It’s definitely an exciting time for our sport.”
Her teammate and fellow out athlete Perris Benegas put together two solid runs but missed the podium by less than one point, finishing fourth behind Swiss rider Nikita Ducarroz.
The show put on by Roberts and Worthington provided a tense battle in the sport’s Olympic debut after multiple riders, including Worthington, crashed during their first runs.
Roberts’ silver medal is the fifth won by out LGBTQ athletes at the Tokyo Games and brings Team LGBTQ’s medal count to 16. This surely won’t be the last we hear of Roberts, Benegas or BMX Freestyle on the Olympic stage.