23 Sep 2016

BMX star without movement from chest down

7:10 am on 23 September 2016

The Australian BMX star Sam Willoughby remains without feeling below his chest after a serious training crash which left him with spinal damage.

Two-time World BMX Champion Sam Willoughby competing at the London Olympics

Two-time World BMX Champion Sam Willoughby competing at the London Olympics Photo: Photosport

The World Champion and London Olympic silver medallist crashed at his local track in Chula Vista, near San Diego while training on September 10 and was airlifted to hospital.

He suffered fractures to his C6 and C7 vertebrae, severely compressing his spinal cord and leaving him with no movement below the chest.

Willoughby underwent surgery, with the C6 vertabrae removed and replaced by a titanium cage while his C5 and C7 vertebrae were fused with a plate and four screws.

His family have released more details of the serious injuries he received from the crash.

"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," Willoughby's family said in a statement released by Cycling Australia.

"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 US-based rehabilitation centre in the next few days."

"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," the family added.

Willoughby won silver in BMX at the 2012 Olympics and made the final in Rio, but finished a surprise sixth.

He also is a two-time world champion.

- Reuters