Sam Willoughby details crash, spine injury, long road to recovery (video)

Leave a comment

A determined Sam Willoughby detailed his Sept. 10 BMX training crash that left him with no feeling below his chest and provided an update on his rehab in a recent TV interview.

Willoughby, a 2012 Australian Olympic silver medalist, landed on his head while riding, fracturing his C6 and C7 vertebrae at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.

“Unfortunately, I remember everything,” Willoughby said from his Denver hospital in an Australia “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday. “I remember kind of losing my balance and being upside down, and then I remember just laying on the floor. I could see my leg to one side, but I couldn’t feel it. I was in no pain. I just couldn’t feel. I laid there for a bit, and then my arms went away.

“I didn’t hear anything. So I know that some people said they hear their neck break, they here a crack. I didn’t hear anything. And then people came over. And obviously everyone that was over there was trying to be really positive and calm me down. I’m not stupid. I felt like I knew what had happened.”

Willoughby said he has regained full movement in his arms, has weak movement in his hands and has spasms and sensations in his toes and legs when they’re touched.

Willoughby has said in the last month that it’s his goal to walk his fiancée, U.S. Olympic BMX silver medalist Alise Post, down the aisle at their wedding next year.

“I’ve got the world riding on my back, and it’s my job to stand up,” he said.

A doctor who leads spinal-cord rehabilitation teams at Willoughby’s hospital said it’s unknown if he’ll be able to walk again.

“I’m optimistic that hopefully he’ll get some of those movement signals coming through here in the next few months, but, really, there’s no way we can tell how much he’s going to recover,” Dr. Morgan Brubaker said.

Updates on Willoughby and an opportunity to donate are available here.

MORE: Peter Sagan edges Mark Cavendish for world title

"I’ve got the world riding on my back and it’s my job to stand up."EXTRA MINUTES | Despite his life changing injury Sam Willoughby tells #60Mins he is determined to ‘turn the negative into a positive’. To show your support for Sam visit: http://www.facebook.com/SamWilloughby91

Posted by 60 Minutes Australia on Sunday, October 16, 2016

Beach volleyball player’s dog becomes social media sensation

Mathias Berntsen
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Norwegian beach volleyball player Mathias Berntsen‘s dog, Kiara, captivated social media this weekend.

A video of Kiara peppering with Berntsen and a pair across the net on a grass field spread from Berntsen’s Instagram across platforms. Kiara now has 12,000 Instagram followers, more than twice the total of Berntsen.

Berntsen, 24, is one half of Norway’s second-best beach volleyball team.

He and partner Hendrik Mol are ranked 45th in the world and well outside the Tokyo Olympic picture (24 teams go to the Games), but could get in the mix depending on how qualification is amended once sports resume.

Berntsen and his cousin Mol are part of a group called the Beach Volley Vikings. Mol’s younger brother, Anders, and family friend Christian Sorum are the world’s top-ranked team (profiled here).

MORE: Beach volleyball players fly to Australia, learn event is canceled

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

Gabriel Jesus
Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

MORE: Noah Lyles details training near woods, dog walkers

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!