Sam Willoughby made history at the London 2012 Games when he became Australia’s first Olympic BMX medallist. After comfortably moving through to the one race final, Willoughby was second to the first corner as defending Olympic Champion Maris Strombergs grabbed the holeshot. The South Australian stalked the Latvian through the rest of the race but could not pass the Beijing gold medallist, leaving him with the silver medal at his first Olympic Games.
Having started competing when he was six in Adelaide, Willoughby burst onto the scene by claiming the junior World Championship title in 2008 before deciding to pack his bags and head to the US to pursue his dream. After another junior world title in 2009, he went on to claim his first senior World Championship in 2012, just a couple months out from the London 2012 Games.
He again won the elite men’s World Championship in 2014 while also winning the time trial at the same event. Willoughby crashed out in the final in 2015 before just missing out on the 2016 final. Despite the result he headed to Rio as one of the top ranked riders as he lined up for his second Olympic Games appearance.
Having qualified third fastest in the time trial, Willoughby won all three of his quarter-final races. He continued his strong form in the semi-finals again winning all three races as he moved through to the final as the top ranked rider. He couldn’t replicate his earlier success though as he finished the final in sixth.
Following the Rio Games, Willoughby was injured in a training accident at the USA Olympic Training Center in California. He is currently on his long road to recovery and our thoughts are with him at this time.