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Olympic medalist rides bike 18 months after crash, paralysis (video)

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Sam Willoughby rode a BMX bike in a video published Thursday, another sign of progress from a September 2016 training crash that temporarily left him with no feeling below his chest.

Willoughby, a 2012 Olympic BMX silver medalist for Australia, realized a goal on New Year’s Eve. With the aid of a walker, he walked his fiancée, 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Alise Post, down the aisle at their wedding. They also danced together to Ed Sheeran‘s “Perfect.”

“It’s fantastic. Life is good,” Willoughby, who turns 27 on Aug. 15, said on a podcast published in February. “It’s a little bit different, obviously, than what I had planned at 27.”

Willoughby gave Post a note on their wedding day saying that she saved his life.

“It gave me so much to fight for when tragedy struck,” Willoughby said of their plan to get married (Willoughby proposed in December 2015). “It gave me a purpose. I wanted to be alive with her.”

On Sept. 10, 2016, Willoughby was warming up on a rhythm section of little jumps on a BMX track he had ridden daily for six years at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. He lost control, backflipped and landed on the top of his head, breaking his neck.

“When I was in the hospital, they used terms like quadriplegic,” Willoughby said. “They didn’t really give me a lot of hope.”

When Post arrived at the hospital, Willoughby told her that he would understand if she didn’t go through with the marriage.

“I didn’t want to be a burden on her life,” he said. “She said I’m not going anywhere.”

The next month, Willoughby said he had regained full movement in his arms, weak movement in his hands and spasms and sensations in his toes and legs when they were touched.

Willoughby was released to go home on Dec. 31, 2016, and since progressed through therapy six days per week. By July, he could pedal a stationary bike for 30 minutes and crawl with weights around his ankles, according to the (Adelaide) Advertiser. By the end of 2017, he could do squats and drive a car, according to the Australian Associated Press.

It took him months of practice to walk with aid at his wedding.

“I keep chipping away at it every day, not knowing what the future holds,” Willoughby said on the podcast. “I know what the future holds if I stop.”

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MORE: U.S. sweeps world titles in BMX

Sam C6 riding a BMX bike

Tokyo 2020….? 🥇Sam Willoughby (C6 Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury) is the first client I have worked with in almost 20 years who isn't walking yet, but can ride a bmx bike!@cocacolaaustraliaOakley@troyleedesigns.tld@IRCTIREUSA Alise Willoughby Alise Post#strengthfor91 #neuroex #spinalcordinjury #scirecovery #fitness #road2recovery

Posted by Neuro Ex Inc on Thursday, March 29, 2018

Chicago Marathon canceled; one major marathon left in 2020

Chicago Marathon
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The Chicago Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 11, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the fourth World Marathon Major called off this year.

Organizers cited the challenge of staging the 45,000-runner event “out of concern for the safety of event participants, volunteers, event staff and spectators.”

Previously, major marathons were canceled in Berlin (originally scheduled for Sept. 27), Boston (April 20, then Sept. 14) and New York City (Nov. 1). The London Marathon, originally scheduled for April 26 and postponed to Oct. 4, remains scheduled.

The other World Marathon Major, Tokyo, took place on its scheduled date of March 1 but with elite runners only.

Last year, Kenyan Brigid Kosgei won Chicago by taking 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record. Kosgei clocked 2:14:04.

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results

Figure skating Grand Prix events in China remain scheduled

Grand Prix Final
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Figure skating Grand Prix events in China in November and December remain scheduled, the International Skating Union announced Monday, four days after reports about international sporting events in China being canceled through the end of 2020.

A notice about sports events, issued Thursday by the General Administration of Sport of China, made an exception for Beijing Winter Olympic test events and other preparations for the first Winter Games in China in February 2022.

The Grand Prix Final, the second-most prestigious annual figure skating competition, is still scheduled for December in Beijing because it is an Olympic test event.

Furthermore, the Cup of China, one of six events across the globe that determines Grand Prix Final qualifiers, remains scheduled for November in Chongqing because it is related to the Final.

“Like for all other five ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events in the different countries, this is of course subject to finding the necessary logistical, medical and safety solutions to hold the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events as planned,” according to the ISU.

The ISU previously announced it set a deadline to decide on possible event cancellations: 12 weeks before an event starts. For the first Grand Prix Series competition, Skate America in Las Vegas, the decision deadline is Aug. 1.

The ISU council will meet virtually on Aug. 3 to decide on further action for upcoming competitions.

MORE: Tai Babilonia, a Winter Olympic original, credits skating trailblazer

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