Sam Willoughby reached the top of BMX and found the love of his life, Alise — then an accident threatened to change everything

Sam Willoughby reached the top of BMX and found the love of his life, Alise — then an accident threatened to change everything


The pain is still etched on Sam Willoughby’s face.

Not just pain.

Uncertainty. Fear.

“BMX was my life,” Sam says while looking straight down the camera at the start of Ride, an ABC Documentary released on Sunday.

“Until it wasn’t.”

The accident that left Sam, a two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist, paralysed from the chest down, happened on September 10, 2016.

Just 22 days earlier, Sam had been racing in the final of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

As his face fills the screen, there’s no option but to confront the vulnerability shown by Australia’s greatest BMX racer head-on.

“In the blink of an eye I went from sitting on the start gate at the Olympic Games to being told someone’s going to dress you for the rest of your life, to not being able to tie my shoes, to being treated like a two-year-old again, to being told you won’t have any independence ever again,” Sam says.

He dares you to confront that fear, just as he has done so inspirationally.

“I stared that in the eye, I lived that, I felt that,” he says.

“And that was something that I didn’t want to accept.”

Teenage BMX stars colliding

In 2007, 16-year-old Sam Willoughby was using his prodigious talent to make waves in the BMX world.

In 2008 he won the junior world championships in China.

Sam was world junior champion in Tiyuan, China, in 2008.(BMX Mania: Jerry Landrum)

More importantly, Sam met Alise.

Alise Post’s career trajectory was similarly impressive to Sam’s.



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