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Alise Willoughby wins second BMX world title

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Alise Willoughby earned her second BMX world title in three years, boosting her hopes to improve on her Rio Olympic silver medal in Tokyo next year.

“Coming into this I was down in the dumps at the start of the day, I started my day on the ground,” Willoughby said, referring to a crash in an earlier round Saturday, according to USA Cycling. “You know coming into this I knew it was going to be tough with all the Europeans who have been here every week for the past year and in the rain. None of it was in my favor. I’m really happy I rose to the challenge and I can’t believe here we are.”

Willoughby, a two-time Olympian, beat 2018 World champion Laura Smulders of the Netherlands by .445 of a second in Zolder, Belgium. Two-time Olympic champion Mariana Pajon of Colombia was taken out by another rider’s crash early in the final.

Twan van Gendt and Niek Kimmann made it a Netherlands one-two in the men’s event, where no Americans made the final. Van Gendt got the hole shot, then benefited coming around the penultimate curve in the lead when riders Nos. 2-5 crashed on the rain-soaked course. Full race video is here.

Rio Olympic champion Connor Fields was eliminated in the semifinals. Fields is the lone American to earn an Olympic BMX title since the sport debuted at Beijing 2008.

Willoughby, née Post, married 2012 Olympic silver medalist Sam Willoughby of Australia on Dec. 31, 2017, 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.

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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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