Just weeks after suffering a life-altering BMX accident Australian star Sam Willoughby vowed that he would walk down the aisle when he weds USA rider Alise Post.
With New Year’s Eve, his wedding day, looming in just under seven weeks-time, his dream of standing to marry 2016 Rio Olympic silver medallist Post is a touch closer than it was before, thanks to a set of revolutionary knee braces.
At a cost of approximately $10,000 the lightweight braces can lock to prevent Willoughby’s knees from buckling, and will allow him to stand long enough for his wedding day. The 26-year-old, himself an Olympic silver medallist from London 2012, told The Advertiser that standing had become a big focus of his training regime.
“Progress-wise, the latest has been a lot of focus on standing and I am able to stand unassisted holding onto parallel bars for around 10 minutes now,” Willoughby said.
“I also recently got some knee braces to use for the wedding which allow me to stand and take some steps without worrying about my knees buckling.”
As with everything Willoughby has done since his accident in September 2016, his family haven’t been far away to help smooth the path. The idea to use knee braces was raised by Willoughby’s brother Matt who had researched them, with the idea then floated with Willoughby’s physiotherapist.
Evidently, the idea got the green light and the popular BMX athlete was measured up in San Diego, California in July by specialists who created them using body casts from the waist down.
The braces have since become a regular fixture in Willoughby’s daily rehabilitation, while he also exercises without them to teach himself to walk again. His mother Sharon has said that in recent months, he has come on in leaps and bounds.
“He’s in excellent spirits, the fact that he’s got to standing now and is acknowledging the improvement is great and he can see there is some progress,” Willoughby’s mother Sharon told The Advertiser
“And he’s looking like he used to, he’s fit, he’s built his upper body up and it enables him to do a lot more. He has more options because to get out of that chair and even get into a vehicle is a huge task.”
From crawling to standing, Willoughby has made progress. Next up is the challenge of taking a step. Not bad for a guy who fractured two vertebrae and compressed his spinal cord in a crash just 14 months ago.