Hannah Roberts was already a trailblazer. After competing in the debut of BMX freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics, she’s also a silver medalist.
Roberts joined “On Her Turf at the Olympics” co-hosts Lolo Jones and Lindsay Czarniak to talk about her silver-medal performance, as well as some of the gender discrepancies she has witnessed in BMX freestyle.
“When I first started in 2016, it was the first year that women’s BMX was able to compete in contests all around the world,” Roberts explained. “Men were making 8,000 [Euro], and we were making 250 Euro for a win. There [were] two or three years where we didn’t have a livestream. The only way that you could see how we competed is if one of us went live on social media. Contests used to never post about us. X-Games still doesn’t have a women’s class. There’s so many things that are still happening and that we’re trying to make equal.”
Since she started competing, Roberts has moved BMX freestyle forward for women. She was the first woman to land a 360-tail whip in competition and constantly looks to improve her game by adding new tricks to her skillset.
The 19-year-old has plenty of competitions ahead of her, and fortunately the gender pay gap is improving. More companies are sponsoring female athletes. And with Olympic exposure, the sport seems only likely to grow.
“It’s been a slow process, and something we’ve had to pull teeth for,” said Roberts. “But the progression is undeniable. I hope young girls see [the sport] and love it. [I hope] they love the community that you can build within it, and they join as well.”
During the Olympics, you can also catch up on all of the major storylines in women’s sports by watching “On Her Turf @ The Olympics,” a 30-minute show that will stream for free on Peacock. Hosted by Lindsay Czarniak, MJ Acosta-Ruiz, and Lolo Jones, the show kicks off on Saturday, July 24, and will stream every day of the Games (Monday-Saturday at 7pm ET and Sundays at 6pm ET).