Down Under BMX duo come out tops

2009-08-24 00:00

AUSTRALIA’S double Junior World Champion Sam Willoughby saw his status on the world stage grow on Saturday as he scooped the UCI BMX World Championships at the Royal Showgrounds.

Urged on by a partisan local crowd, the 18-year-old Willoughby was in superb form all day, winning every one of his heats, the quarter-final and semi-final.

“I’m really excited with this win. It’s the right end to a perfect day, I guess,” said the bubbly Aussie.

Current world champion Donny Robinson was full of praise.

“Sam is improving all the time. He’s a real talent and so consistent. I would have loved to have had Lane 1 for the final, but he made the most of it and he never made a single mistake. I planned to run at him in the third straight, but he was flawless through there.”

Rob van den Wildenberg, the “Flying Dutchman”, was thrilled with third place. “This is my first ever podium in a World Cup, so I’m very happy,” he said. “I over-jumped the first jump, which threw my rhythm out a bit and from there I just followed Donny’s line and held my position.”

The women’s world champion, Kiwi Sarah Walker, shook off a crash during practice to add the World Cup event to last month’s World Championship. Argentina’s Gabriela Diaz finished second with Frenchwoman Eva Ailloud, the current World No. 1, taking third.

“I took it a bit easy in the semi-final motos because I didn’t want to risk doing something silly and not making the final. But in the final I let it all out and I had a really good race,” said the 21-year-old Walker.

The success and support for this event bodes well for next year’s World Championships to be held in the city in July.

Women’s final: 1. Sarah Walker (NZL); 2. Gabriela Diaz (ARG); 3. Eva Ailloud (FRA); 4. Magalie Pottier (FRA); 5. Merle van Benthem (NED)

Men’s final: 1. Sam Willoughby (AUS); 2. Donny Robinson (USA); 3. Rob van den Wildenberg (NED); 4. Quentin Caleyron (FRA); 5. Raymon van der Biezen (NED)

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