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Hannah Roberts wins fourth consecutive BMX freestyle world title

Hannah Roberts

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 07: Hannah Roberts of the United States competes in her first run during the BMX Freestyle Park, women elite - final at the 96th UCI Glasgow 2023 Cycling World Championships, Day 4 / #UCIWT / on August 07, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

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Hannah Roberts has won just about everything possible on a freestyle BMX bike except an Olympic title.

That could be coming next.

The 21-year-old American trick artist didn’t even need her second run in the finals of the world championships on Monday, posting a score of 91.04 points during her opening run to secure her fourth consecutive title and fifth overall. Roberts was followed by all five of the riders from emerging powerhouse China, led by silver medalist Sibei Sun and bronze medalist Huimin Zhou.

“I mean, Team China, they’re coming on strong. They have some of the best riders in the world and they’re so motivated to keep it going,” said Roberts, who finished second at the Tokyo Olympics. “They placed second through sixth and that’s incredible for an entire team. So going into the event, I knew there was some big stuff I wanted to pull for the first run. I did what I could.”

Roberts was the favorite to win BMX freestyle when it made its Olympic debut two years ago in Tokyo. And she made good on the expectations in the opening runs of the finals, posting the highest score. But on their second runs, Britain’s Charlotte Worthington jumped into first place, and Roberts failed to finish her second run after a poor landing and finished second.

Worthington, who was seventh on Monday, was among the first to congratulate Roberts when they came off the park.

“I’m super grateful,” Roberts said. “I’m still emotional.”

In the men’s freestyle competition, Brit Kieran Reilly thought he’d done enough to earn the world championship before a home crowd during his superlative second run, dropping his bike at the end of it as if it was a mic drop.

He had to wait through a 50-minute rain delay to find out for sure.

There were still six riders to go, and they were the heaviest hitters in the sport, when the 22-year-old European champion posted a score of 95.80 with his second of two finals runs. Those left included Olympic champion Logan Martin, the final rider to hit the freestyle park, and who just about knocked Reilly from the stop step of the medal stand.

The two-time world champion from Australia only scored 95.30 with his second run, though, allowing Reilly to win by a sliver of a margin. Former world bronze medalist Nick Bruce of the U.S. took bronze with his score of 93.30.

“It’s been a stressful half-hour sitting behind there. I got to the point where it’s guaranteed I’ve got a medal before it rained, but the difference between getting a medal and a (rainbow) jersey is huge,” Reilly said. “This is the biggest competition in the world outside the Olympics and this is a perfect stepping stone for me.”