Thanks to bmxworldcup.com, Alise Willoughby shares her thoughts on 2020 and how important kicking things off at Shepparton are. On top of that, she loves Australia and who can blame her?
Australians love cheering world class sporting superstars and it comes as no surprise that in BMX this is applied to the USA’s world champion Alise Willoughby who loves getting an Aussie cheer when her name is read on the gate.
What’s better, is that the feelings are completely mutual – we love her, and she loves us!
This relationship sparked wildfire when Alise married Australian hero Sam Willoughby in the BMX wedding of the year in 2018.
While Sam is unable to ride anymore due to a career-ending spinal injury, his passion and dedication is now combined with Alise’s, as her full-time coach and no.1 supporter and in doing so, he has brought the entire Australian contingent with him.
With that being said, all eyes will be on the pair when they venture to Shepparton for the first two rounds of the 2020 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup on February 1 & 2 and Alise will be eagerly jumping on the gate after putting together an impressive 2019 report card.
Top of that list is the world title she claimed at the 2019 UCI BMX World Championships in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium. Following that was her performances in the 10 round world cup series which saw her finish third overall, before wrapping up the year with a dominant performance at the USA’s Grands in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
With nearly 14 years of experience as a professional BMX rider, the Rio Olympic silver medallist knows only too well how important a strong start at Shepparton is for the year ahead.
“Obviously being an Olympic year, it’s so important to get that great start at Shepparton,” Willoughby said.
“With everything being so condensed in the schedule, there isn’t a lot of time to make up if you’re not where you want to be.
“More to that, Shepparton is well known for having the most similarity to the track in Tokyo, which means not only will the racing be really competitive, but it’s almost like a test run for the big show later in the year.”
While the Willoughbys make their way down under for world cup preparations, it is also an opportunity to see some of their family, something that Alise is just as excited about.
“It’s great to experience a nice Aussie summer,” Willoughby continued.
“I definitely think I’m half Aussie, I mean the name Willoughby is as Aussie as you can get!
“I really love that Aussie spirit and I have a real soft spot for the culture and country. I’m really excited about racing and even though it’s not a ‘home’ race, it will definitely feel like one. I even remember at the world champs in Zolder, the Aussies cheering for me.”
Alongside Sam, Alise will also have long standing training partner and close Aussie friend Lauren Reynolds to keep her honest while they both compete down under.
As one of Australia’s Rio Olympians, Reynolds is the perfect companion for Willoughby and their relationships goes further than just the BMX bike.
“Lauren and I have been side by side for so long now. We have had highs and lows together and It’s been amazing to have her. She was in our wedding and is part of our lives on and off the track,” Willoughby said.
“She has been improving tenfold and she is as tough as nails, such a fierce competitor and great to have going into battle with me.”
Willoughby has already tasted the Olympic podium, but is forever reaching for that top spot, something she is more than committed to do come Tokyo.
“Competing for the Olympics is why we are all here, I guess!” Willoughby laughed.
“It will be the icing on the cake if I win gold. I won silver last time and to be honest, as soon as I crossed the line I thought ‘ahh, so close!’
“That first silver medal has been the highlight of my career, but I would really love to cap it off with a gold medal and it all starts with Shepparton.”