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05.29.12

Willoughby Aims for BMX Gold at London

BMX - London Olympics

Winning a world championship so close to the Olympics sucks - but only because you can't celebrate for too long before you have to get back into training for an even bigger prize two months later.

It's a situation new world BMX champion Sam Willoughby is relishing.

Never really in Australia's pre-Games medal calculations before last weekend's world title triumph in Birmingham, Willoughby, 20, is now firmly in the frame as a gold medal fancy.

'It's definitely a good confidence booster going into the Olympics, that's the last time I'll race against those top guys before London,' Willoughby told reporters from his base in San Diego on Tuesday.

'It kind of sucks you've got to put it on the back burner so quick. You've got one week off and then it's back into training. You've almost got to put it behind you and start again and start working hard and go for the next one. It's in my competitive mind now that the last time we met, I won. It's hard to beat someone that you know is confident or that you know has beaten you previously. I'm definitely in a great position at the moment.'

In a sport that's so frenetic that one false move or split second of mistiming is the difference between victory and nothing, Willoughby's world title is certainly no fluke. The 2008 and 2009 world junior champion and world No.1 has managed to stay consistent, and upright, for long enough to make a good living on the US professional circuit as well as win a senior world title.

'BMX is a very cut throat sport in respect that everything's over in 40 seconds,' Willoughby said. 'So it's very reliant on you being quite perfect every time you step out there.'

The South Australian is one of only around 10 BMX riders in the world capable of making a living out of a sport more commonly associated with unruly kids.

After making its debut at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Willoughby believes the public is coming to see BMX as a legitimate sport.

'BMX sometimes has the perception of being adults on kids bikes,' he said. 'But in Beijing they saw how extreme it is and how cut throat the sport is and how exciting it is. Come London, people are going to treat it like any other sport they're going to look at it to see a battle.'

And, with Willoughby and Australia's world No.2 women's BMX rider Caroline Buchanan in action, perhaps some medals as well.

 

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