By Blythe Lawrence | Nov. 11, 2018, 9 a.m. (ET)
Justin Dowell competes in the men's freestyle park at the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships on Nov. 11, 2018 in Chengdu, China.

 

Try this on for size: Justin Dowell, BMX World Champion. 

The 18-year-old out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, took the rainbow jersey in men’s freestyle park at the the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships Sunday in Chengdu, China, following in the tracks of teammate Perris Benegas, who led an American sweep of the medals in women’s event hours earlier.

“I can’t believe it — like I’m speechless,” a thrilled Dowell commented after putting down a “dream run” that scored 92.2 points in his first attempt at the course Saturday. “Everyone rode so good, and I’m just so happy to be here.”

Costa Rica’s Kenneth Tencio Esquivel took the silver after putting up 88.9, and Australian Brandon Loupos finished with a bronze earned for his first round ride, which scored 88.72 to edge countryman Jake Wallwork, who ended fourth for his 88.6. Americans Daniel Sandoval, Jeremy Malotte and Nick Bruce finished seventh, 10th and 11th, respectively.

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The men’s competition was without 2017 world champion Logan Martin of Australia, who was injured in a crash in training last month. Competitng as a junior, Dowell finished eighth in 2017.

Dowell’s gold gave the Americans four of the six medals up for grabs in BMX freestyle in Chengdu. In the women’s competition, Perris was joined on the podium by Angie Marino and Hannah Roberts.

Dowell’s gold closed out the second edition of the Urban Cycling Worlds, which are set to return to China again in 2019. 

BMX freestyle is set to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2020, joining BMX racing, which has been an Olympic discipline since 2008. 

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.