Olympics- BMX freestyle champ says Games inclusion brings 'fantastic opportunities'

FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics - BMX Freestyle - Women's Park - Final - Ariake Urban Sports Park, Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2021. Charlotte Worthington of Britain in action. REUTERS/Matthew Childs/File Photo

SHANGHAI(Reuters) - British BMX freestyle gold medallist Charlotte Worthington said her sport has developed rapidly since gaining official Olympic recognition.

BMX, an acronym for bicycle moto cross, made its Olympics debut in Beijing 2008 as a racing event and Worthington's speciality, BMX freestyle, got its start as an Olympic medal event in Tokyo 2021.

"In those three years, there's been a huge increase in participants in competition, and recognition and respect as a sport and for us as athletes," said Worthington who is in Shanghai this week for one of the two qualifying events for the 2024 Games in Paris.

"It brought fantastic opportunities," she added, noting that Olympic recognition opens doors to sponsorships.

The addition of BMX and other extreme sports such as skateboarding and surfing is part of the International Olympics Committee's bid to appeal to a younger global audience.

"I do think the more variety and the more access everyday people have to sport and inspiration to do that can only be a good thing," she said. "It doesn't have to look like traditional sports."

(Reporting by Nicoco Chan, Editing by Casey Hall and Edwina Gibbs)

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