Sam Willoughby Wins 2014 BMX World Cup Championships
BMX - Rotterdam, Netherlands
South Aussie BMX star Sam Willoughby fought back tears as he dedicated his second elite men’s world title to the mother of girlfriend Alise Post, who lost her battle with cancer earlier this year.
Willoughby has been dating Post — a competitor from the United States who won silver in the women’s race — for several years and referred to her mum Cheryl and father Mark as his “American parents” after living with them when he first started competing on the US circuit.
Wearing a bracelet with Cheryl’s name on it, the champion from Adelaide’s southern suburbs survived a crash-marred final to claim an emotional victory in the Netherlands overnight Sunday.
“It’s pretty special to win this,” Willoughby said. “My girlfriend Alise lost her mum in January and that’s what this bracelet here is all about — for Cheryl — and this is partly for her.”
Willoughby started the final from lane two and trailed US rider Connor Fields into the second turn. But a bold inside move turned the race in his favor as Fields crashed and took out half the field — including South Australian Anthony Dean.
“I wasn’t going to go to the inside of him down that straight because I knew that corner was tight,” Willoughby said. “(But) it’s the worlds final, stuff just happens and I went there and it worked. I’ll take it.”
Willoughby enjoyed a stellar weekend in Rotterdam, also claiming victory in the time trial. He made a smooth progression through the preliminary races, unlike reigning world champion Liam Phillips and Olympic champion Maris Strombergs who crashed out.
“We lost Liam in the first round, Maris in the semi (but) me and Connor did the same thing last year — we both went down in the quarters,” Willoughby said. “It’s the world champs, it’s survival of the fittest and man that feels good.”
Willoughby took a different approach into this year’s event after losing the crown he won in 2012 to Phillips. He skipped a few lead-up events to focus on training with coach Sean Dwight and it paid off.
“Ten years ago exactly to this day Australia got its first elite world title in Holland with Warwick Stevenson,” Willoughby said. “To come back 10 years later and do it with Sean in the same country is pretty cool.”
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