On Sept. 10, Australian BMX racer Sam Willoughby — a two-time UCI BMX world champion and the 2012 Olympic silver medalist — suffered a severe crash while training at the Chula Vista BMX track in Southern California.
On Thursday, Cycling Australia released a statement from his family and his fiancee, fellow BMX pro Alise Post, detailing how Willoughby is facing an uphill battle in his quest to walk again:
On Sept 10, 2016, Sam had a training accident on the local Chula Vista BMX track where he was airlifted to the hospital and operated on that evening due to sustaining fractures in his C6 and C7 vertebrae which severely compressed his spinal cord and left him with no movement below his chest…
…At this stage, Sam still has no movement from his chest down but has regained use of his arms and is slowly regaining some sensation in his legs. Sam’s next step is to begin a long road of recovery at a rehabilitation centre and while the details are still to be finalized, at this stage it is expected that Sam will be transported to a USA-based rehabilitation centre in the next few days.
Post further explained her fiancee’s condition to the Herald-Sun.
“We are in the midst of planning our wedding for next year and one of Sam’s goals is to do everything in his power to walk me down that aisle side-by-side as husband and wife,” the 2016 Olympic silver medalist, whom to Willoughby proposed last December, told the newspaper.
She added his fight to walk again will be “by far the biggest obstacle he will likely ever face.”
Post and the rest of Willoughby’s family have set up an online fundraising campaign through Road2Recovery to try to raise $200,000 to ensure Willoughby can afford his rehabilitation expenses.
Post announced the start of the campaign on Instagram, along with the hashtag #strengthfor91 (91 is Willoughby’s rider number):
Thank you for your patience in awaiting an update on @swilloughby91_ condition. @cyclingaustralia has released an official statement online and the link to Sam's support page is in my bio. Sam is the toughest man I know, and we are so ready to move forward and take on the #road2recovery Thank you for your continued support, it means the world #strengthfor91 >>> http://www.road2recovery.com/strengthfor91
That hashtag spread across social media, where fellow members of the cycling community voiced their support for Willoughby:
— Chris Hoy (@chrishoy) September 22, 2016
— Jessica Varnish (@JessVarnish) September 22, 2016
— Liam PHILLIPS (@liamPHILLIPS65) September 12, 2016
— Annette Edmondson (@NettieEdmo) September 22, 2016
— Tiffany Jane (@tiffanycromwell) September 22, 2016
Willoughby’s accident is the latest in a string of high-profile biking injuries in recent months.
In August, Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten fractured her back in three places after suffering a hard crash during the women’s road race in the Rio Olympics.
Then, on Saturday, Iranian Paralympian Bahman Golbarnezhad died following a crash during the men’s road race in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
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