Sydney - Australian former BMX world champion and two-time Olympian
Sam Willoughby has been left partially paralysed after a training
accident in the United States, with no movement from the chest down.
25-year-old, who won silver at the 2012 London Olympics but could only
manage sixth in Rio this year, underwent surgery for fractures to his
vertebrae which compressed his spinal cord after a crash near San Diego
on September 10, his family said.
"Fortunately, this surgery was
successful enough at decompressing his spinal cord and aligning his
vertebrae that a second operation for further stabilisation was not
necessary," they said in a statement issued through Cycling Australia
"At this stage, Sam still has no movement from his
chest down but has regained use of his arms and is slowly regaining some
sensation in his legs.
"Sam's next step is to begin a long road
of recovery at a rehabilitation centre and while the details are still
to be finalised, at this stage it is expected that Sam will be
transported to a USA-based rehabilitation centre in the next few days."
Willoughby started competing aged six in Adelaide, and burst onto the scene by claiming the junior world championship in 2008.
another junior world title in 2009, he claimed his first senior world
championship in 2012, before winning silver at the London Olympics.
He won the world championship again in 2014, but crashed out of the final in 2015.