WHEN Sam Willoughby rode in the green and gold of Australia he enjoyed remarkable success but now, as a coach of elite riders instead of being one himself, he finds the sport of BMX even more rewarding.
Willoughby's resume as a rider included two Olympic Games appearances - winning silver at London - six World Cup wins, back-to-back junior world titles and being a two-time elite men's world champion.
While a horrific spinal injury he suffered during training just one month after the Rio Olympics ended his sensational racing career, Willoughby is still heavily involved in the sport.
He was in Bathurst on the weekend for rounds three and four of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup as coach of his wife, star American rider Alise Willoughby and Australian Olympic hopefuls Lauren Reynolds and Anthony Dean.
"Alise and I being married that was sort of the reason I got into it, just to kind of be there and a shoulder for her to lean on," he explained of his current role.
"That's the biggest thing I learned from the sport, it's so important just to have someone in those times of pressure to lean on and someone that's been there through the whole process day-in and day-out.
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"With Lauren and Anthony, they are two good friends of mine and we've always been around each other in Australia and we're all in San Diego together and just sort of went after this thing together.
"It's been a really fun, unique situation and it's probably more rewarding, I've found, when they succeed than when I did personally. That team effort and you can just feel that same emotion."
While Willoughby naturally wants to see his athletes succeed, he is also excited to see what the Australian contingent can do across the 2020 World Cup rounds, at the Tokyo Olympics and into the future. Bathurst plays a role in that.
"We've had pretty rich pedigree here in Australia over the years," he said.
"Now, as we get more and more facilities like here in Bathurst, we continue to elevate and I think we're going to be a powerhouse of the world for years to come."