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Charlotte Worthington discusses mental impact of Olympic gold

Worthington had been riding for just five years prior to the Olympics, having previously worked as a chef, and the sudden spotlight brought pressures and challenges.

“I was a scooter kid from Manchester that worked in a kitchen and suddenly I’m on the Olympic stage and I’ve won a gold medal,” she said.

“It was super-motivating at the time to think what more could be possible.

“But I’d start to treat every contest like the Olympics and then you realise just how much prep actually went into that and that’s actually not sustainable.”

In the aftermath of her historic achievement, Worthington received an MBE and people took an increased interest in her career.

Away from the plaudits and recognition, she was battling an internal dilemma.

“It became all about the competition and when I started it wasn’t just for the competition. I started because it was something fun you did after school with your mates,” she said.

“I had a lot of expectation that I put on myself. I suddenly had sponsors and I was just learning how to deal with all that.”

Worthington decided to take a break from competition, go back to basics and rediscover what she loved about the sport.

She withdrew from last year’s World Cup event in Montpellier, France – a competition attended by many hoping to qualify for the 2024 Paris Games.

“I thought ‘I’ll just hone in and focus on the things that actually light me up about the sport and really focus on them for a while’,” she said.

“I had no agenda, no training, just riding a BMX and that’s what helped me rebuild.”

The 2019 European champion had planned to feature at the 2023 European Games but instead pulled out to focus on Olympic qualifying events, including the World Championships in Glasgow in August, where she finished seventh in the 11-strong field.

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