Team Australia members, family and friends at the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships were treated to a night with Sam Willoughby as a part of their 2017 Rock Hill experience.
The event was live streamed on the BMX Australia Facebook page so that BMX fans at home in Australian and around the world could also tune in.
The event was based around a discussion led host, Australian 2008 Olympian Luke Madill. Madill, as well as members of the packed-out audience posed questions to Willoughby on his BMX career, last year’s injury and what is next to come.
It was clear from watching the live stream how much admiration and respect Madill had for Willoughby, even going as far as to say, “from being with him and seeing him at his home including what he does, I don’t think he will be in that wheelchair forever.”
There were many questions asked of Willoughby in regard to potentially transitioning into a BMX coach after news has spread quickly of the five-time world champion helping out fiancé, USA elite rider Alise Post, with her world championship preparation and training.
“Training is something I have put a lot of time and energy into, first and foremost I have been helping Alise out and now Lauren (Australian women’s elite, Lauren Reynolds), I would like to be more hands on obviously but I do really enjoy it and it is definitely something I would like to do more of in the future,” Willoughby said.
As Willoughby addressed the crowd it was obvious the Happy Valley BMX club junior has gained a tonne of perspective post his accident, which was a great insight for BMX riders, other athletes or even just your everyday person.
“The brain has an amazing ability to adapt, you do have the ability to control your emotions. That really hit home for me, going from the Olympic Games one moment then to a hospital bed, fearing for my life.”
“You just have to live in the moment and work hard.”
Post joined Willoughby at the Team Australia event and has been the ultimate pillar of support for her fiancé over the past year, her calm and supportive nature shining through during the couple’s time on the microphone.
“If this happened to any other person, I don’t think they would be able to do the things he is doing right now,” Post mentioned repeatedly to the audience.
“I think if he chooses to pursue coaching with other athletes he will be really great, I hope you all get to experience it.”
Many of the team’s junior riders relished the opportunity to ask one of their BMX heroes some hard hitting questions about the Olympian’s favourite tracks around the world, best BMX memories and whether or not Australia is still his favourite country.
“My favourite country will always be Australia,” Willoughby said before joking about returning home this year to watch the Adelaide Crows in the AFL grand final.
Looking towards the future, Willoughby mentioned the chance of potentially one day publishing his own book.
“I would love to write a book, I have spoken to my management about potentially doing this one day but I am hoping to have a better ending still,” Willoughby said as the audience laughed.
He will also continue with ‘Café Willoughby’, the YouTube channel he operates, but is not sure what it will lead to in the future.
“I dream to one day open a coffee shop with some good coffee,” after an audience member and Willoughby pointed out their distaste towards American coffee.
Team Australia members will keep an eye out for Willoughby as he spends the next couple of days around the Rock Hill track for the remainder of the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships.
For everyone back home, you can stay updated with Sam Willoughby by tuning into ‘Café Willoughby’ each week.