Willoughby hopes he will inspire youth
Sam Willoughby, Australia’s first Olympic medallist in BMX cycling, says he hopes his success will inspire even more children back home to take up the sport.
Willoughby won the silver medal on Day 14, and was still beaming a day later as he detailed his excitement.
“Obviously, as an athlete, you come in and you want to win, and that was the goal for me, but in saying that I’m very happy to be a medallist,” he said.
“I’m still young, and I’m hopeful I can remain at the front of the sport and be an ambassador, and hopefully help grow the sport within Australia and make it bigger and better.
“Hopefully, kids will get a BMX bike and make it their chosen sport.”
Willoughby, who will celebrate his 21st birthday on August 15, said he believed BMX cycling in general would get a huge kick out of the success of the event in London, and that the sport had proven it should remain at Olympic level.
“I feel like I’ve gotten a fair bit of attention through all of this,” he said. “And I think people are definitely jumping on-board the sport.
“I think BMX is pretty secure at Olympic level. I think they are keen to have a sport that appeals to the younger generation. The venue here was sold out and there were a lot of famous names in the crowd.
“It brings an extreme aspect to the Olympics, and it’s great for the crowd because it’s exciting and it doesn’t take a long time to run.”
Asked whether he thought it was fair that, in an event where something can easily go wrong and ruin a competitor’s chances, the final came down to just one race, instead of three like the semi-finals, Willoughby said he had no problem with the format.
“I think it’s pretty much the same as other sports,” he said. “We have a number of heats to give everyone a good chance to qualify, and then we have one race as the final.
That’s how it is in BMX – one lap for the win.
“Maybe three races in the final would be fairer, but it would also create more confusion for the spectators, trying to keep up with the points tally.”
Willoughby said he didn’t see sports like freestyle BMX or skateboarding coming into the Olympics.
“My opinion is that it’s better to keep sports in that are more clear-cut,” he said. “First past the post is the winner. Judged sports are always hard (to follow).”