Willoughby BMX World Champion again28 July 2014
BMX: It was an electric atmosphere inside Ahoy stadium in Rotterdam for the final day of the UCI BMX World Championships, with the crowd treated to some breathtaking racing, thrills and spills and high drama.
Australian Olympic silver medallist Sam Willoughby, fresh off his Time Trial crown on Saturday breezed through the early rounds and looked particularly sharp, with the 2012 world champion a man on a mission after crashing out last year.
It was a day when plenty of big names were brought down on the tight track, with defending champion Liam Phillips from Great Britain going out in the 1/8 round after dramatically crashing out. While Olympic gold medallist Maris Strombergs of Latvia crashed on the final section of the course in his semi-final allowing Australian Anthony Dean to accompany good mate Willoughby in the final.
The final proved to be no different as Willoughby made the move of the weekend from second to first over American Connor Fields who then crashed hard to bring down all but two riders, bikes and bodies flying in all directions, as Willoughby rode to glory with Dean, who was effected by the crash, finishing eighth.
An ecstatic Willoughby was visibly emotional following his win, dedicating it to the late mother of American girlfriend Alise Post, who finished second in the elite woman the race before.
“It’s pretty special for me to win this,” he said.
“It’s incredible, you train hard and set your goals, it’s all realistic on paper but doing it is a whole different story.”
In what was a case of history repeating, ten years ago to the day Warwick Stevenson became the first Australian to be crowned elite World Champion in the Netherlands, a statistic Willoughby mentioned with pride before thanking the crowd.
“To come back ten years later and do it in the same country is pretty cool, so I’m stoked,” he said.
“The crowds awesome here, it’s been a great atmosphere.”
Defending world champion Caroline Buchanan was left battered and bruised after crashing during her last heat earlier in the day, however seemed un-phased when she dominated her quarter final, sending a clear message of intent to the rest of the field.
However it wasn’t her day, after she rode an uncharacteristically poor semi-final to finish fifth and miss out on the final, with last year’s runner up and fellow Australian Lauren Reynolds also falling short.
A day earlier, Olympic silver medallist Sam Willoughby could not have made a greater statement by winning the time trial in stunning fashion, edging out American Corben Sarrah by 0.62 seconds on what was a highly entertaining evening at the Ahoy Stadium in Rotterdam, with Australia’s Bodi Turner finishing in tenth.
Caroline Buchanan, who will be defending her World Championship crown when racing gets underway on day five, rode fantastically to finish in second just 0.022 seconds outside top spot. However her form suggests she will still be the one to catch come finals time on Sunday.
BMX Australia and AOC