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But this time, it’s for a very different type of achievement

Positive attitude and resilience following a life-altering training accident have been the catalyst for Australian BMX star Sam Willoughby winning the Tanya Denver Award, as part of The Advertiser and Channel Seven Sport Star of the Year Awards on Friday night.

In September 2016 Willoughby broke his neck and was left without movement from the chest down following a crash at Chula Vista BMX track, just weeks after the Rio Olympics.

He fractured two vertebrae in the incident and compressed his spinal cord, forcing surgeons to remove his C6 vertebrae and replace it with a titanium cage. His C5-C7 vertebrae were fused using a plate and screws.

The top award has been won by Willoughby on two previous occasions, once in 2009 and then again in 2014. In those years, it was awarded courtesy of his status as South Australia’s brightest sport star. The latter award achieved after he became BMX world champion.

However, the award recognises resilience, determination, courage and endeavour. In the past 12 months Willoughby has demonstrated each trait as he passed milestones such as pedalling a stationary bike, crawling with ankle weights and standing for 10 minutes at a time.

Importantly the ability to stand for that long will allow Willoughby to marry fiancée Alise Post on New Year’s Eve this year.

Article originally posted as ‘BMX champion Sam Willoughby wins Tanya Denver Award for his positive attitude and resilience after life tuned upside down’ in The Advertiser. You can read the full article HERE.