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Connor Fields details ‘scariest injury’ of BMX career after toughest year

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Rio Olympic BMX champion Connor Fields was “knocked out” at February’s national championships in what he called the scariest injury of his life.

“I hit my head … and woke up strapped to a body board in an ambulance on the way to the hospital,” was posted on Fields’ social media on Sunday after he placed second at Grand Nationals in Tulsa, Okla. “When I asked what happened they told me I had a seizure on impact. I haven’t really ever been knocked out before, and when they told me that I was absolutely terrified. Couple months later I was cleared by the doctors.”

Fields, 26, did not compete at the first World Cup stop of 2018 in late March and early April after a crash at nationals. He returned to finish 14th, 15th and 34th in the next three World Cups and 29th at the world championships.

He was seventh and 12th in the last two World Cups in late September and ranks 17th in the world, down from No. 2 at the end of 2017.

“This was by far the toughest year of my career,” was posted on Fields’ social media.

In 2016, the brash Fields became the first U.S. Olympic champion in an event that debuted at the 2008 Beijing Games. He overcame a broken wrist suffered four months before Rio.

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Long post alert…..Wrapping up 2018 I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone in my corner. This was by far the toughest year of my career. After starting off feeling great and getting some good results right off the bat I had the scariest injury of my life. I hit my head at the national championships in February and woke up strapped to a body board in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. When I asked what happened they told me I had a seizure on impact. I haven’t really ever been knocked out before and when they told me that I was absolutely terrified. Couple months later I was cleared by the doctors, but it took me a while to get comfortable again and to be ready for battle, because these days elite racing is an all out war every day. I had some of my worst results I’ve ever had mid season but I kept telling myself I had to keep getting back in the ring and the breakthrough would come, and eventually it did and I finished the year off feeling stronger than I started it. I want to say thank you to all of my sponsors, @usacycling , my coach Sean Dwight, my training partners, friends, family, Laura, Brad, fans, and anyone else who supported me this year through the good times and the bad. Onwards and upwards to 2019!

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Olympic silver medalist’s BMX bike stolen at In-N-Out Burger

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Olympic silver medalist Alise Willoughby said her BMX bike was stolen while she dined at an In-N-Out Burger in California last weekend.

“It’s very noticeable,” Willoughby said of the bike in an NBC San Diego interview. “My name is written all over it.”

Willoughby has not returned an email to an account associated with her, seeking an update on the bike. She said she has been undefeated domestically riding the bike this year. Willoughby is a four-time world medalist, with a gold in 2017.

Willoughby said her biggest race of the year is in three weeks, presumably the Grand Nationals in Tulsa.

“And I don’t have a bike right now,” she said.

Willoughby has been known to ride with the words “Cheryl Strong” on her bike’s front hub axle in honor of her mom, who was diagnosed with melanoma in 2013 and died in January 2014. It’s not known whether the stolen bike is the same one.

Willoughby, née Post, married 2012 Olympic silver medalist Sam Willoughby of Australia on Dec. 31, two years after he suffered a training crash that temporarily left him with no feeling below his chest. He walked her down the aisle with the aid of a walker.

“It’s got a lot of meaningful stuff to me,” Alise Willoughby said of the bike, “between my husband’s accident and my mom’s passing away, just custom little things that mean a lot to me.”

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Ice and dirt: Connor Fields leaves one championship to pursue another

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Connor Fields‘ heart is in Las Vegas. His BMX bike and last remaining goal in the sport are in Azerbaijan.

Fields, who in Rio became the first U.S. Olympic champion in an event that debuted in 2008, can continue a recent run of American dominance in BMX at the world championships in Baku on Saturday (Olympic Channel, 6 p.m. ET).

“I’ve won every single title possible except for one,” he said. Nationals, Pan American Games, World Cup season title and Olympic gold. But not yet a world title in the elite race that’s on the Olympic program.

“I’d like to take that off and complete the full set,” Fields said.

The timing is a little unfortunate for the 25-year-old who was born in Plano, Texas but has lived in the Las Vegas area since age 4. Fields is so associated with the city that when the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights opened their team store last June, he was the featured athlete in promotions.

“They didn’t have any players yet,” Fields admitted. The expansion draft was a day after the store’s grand opening, which Fields was invited to attend with coach Gerard Gallant.

Last week, Fields made a last-minute (and surely costly) decision to attend Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Golden Knights and Washington Capitals, before flying to Europe ahead of worlds. The Knights won the opener but lost the next three games.

Speaking from France, Fields said he planned to be home in Nevada for Games 6 and 7. It might be moot. The Capitals can lift the Cup with a Game 5 win in Vegas on Thursday (NBC, 8 p.m. ET).

Fields brought Golden Knights gear to France — even to the Palace of Versailles — but his priority is clear.

“World title, easy, not even a question,” Fields said. “I don’t get to take home a trophy or anything if the Golden Knights win.”

Fields would appear an underdog given World Cup results this year — 14th, 15th and 34th — but he won the last World Cup race of 2017 to place second in last season’s overall standings.

He isn’t the only American in medal contention. Rio silver medalist Alise Willoughby and Corben Sharrah swept the 2017 World titles in Rock Hill, S.C., ending an eight-year drought for the U.S. for either gender.

Fields and Willoughby are the only active U.S. cyclists in any discipline (BMX, mountain, road, track) with an individual Olympic medal. Willoughby and Sharrah are two of three active U.S. cyclists in any discipline with an individual world title in an Olympic event (43-year-old Amber Neben, women’s road time trial, 2008 and 2016).

Before BMX made its Olympic debut, a 14-year-old Fields wrote in Sharpie on his parents’ garage wall, “One day I will be national and world champion.”

Then, maybe in two years, an Olympic champion twice.

“I’ve got four years more of experience, four years more to draw from, both good and bad, and mistakes that have been made that I can try not to make it again,” said Fields, who was so overwhelmed at his first Olympics in 2012 that he couldn’t manage a bite of his oatmeal on race day, crashed in the final and finished seventh. “I feel less pressure going in. I’m Olympic champion. I always will be Olympic champion. Nobody can ever take the gold medal away from me. Now I just get the opportunity to get two.”

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