Aussie mates' BMX journey from Adelaide to Rio
Published 2 August 2016 (AEDT)
Being able to enjoy an Olympic experience would be one thing, doing it with one of your best mates is another.
In Rio, Adelaide childhood friends Sam Willoughby, 24,and Anthony Dean, 25, will line up on the start ramp together for Australia when the BMX competition gets underway on August 17.
The duo grew up grew up riding their bikes together in Adelaide, starting out in the sport when they were six and seven years old.
Willoughby burst onto the world scene a few years later after winning the 2008 Junior World Championships. In 2009 and on home soil in Adelaide, Willoughby defended his world title and joining him on the podium was good mate Dean.
First junior worlds podium with Sam in Adelaide in 2009 was an amazing experience, an here we are seven years later, I am heading off as a team mate of Sam’s again, but this time to the Olympics,” said Dean, a reserve for the London Games, who has rocketed into the top ten ahead of his debut Olympic Games in Rio.
“It will be a great experience. When you’re a kid at that age, you don’t really see that far ahead, but it is pretty crazy to think this is where we have ended up.”
Dean watched on as Willoughby memorably claimed Australia’s first ever Olympic BMX medal when he grabbed silver in London. Four years later, Willoughby is excited to share the experience.
“It is pretty cool to be going here with him this time around,” said Willoughby, 24. “He has stepped up a lot over the last four years and I think he will be a real threat at the Games.
“I hope he and I can both be standing on the podium with him again at the end of the Games.”
Dean has had an interrupted Olympic year, breaking his collarbone in training to begin the year in January. He was back on his bike in just a few short weeks following surgery, and amazingly finished seventh at the opening World Cup event of 2016 in Argentina. He also claimed a semi-final finish at the 2016 World Championships.
“As I get closer, I am more ready,” said Dean from the team’s Chula Vista training camp. “There are no excuses, I have done everything I could have possible done.”
Dean expects the intensity will lift in Rio, but he is ready for the challenge.
“I believe the competition will be similar to what we have been racing this year, but it’s the race that matters. I believe everyone will be going that little bit harder and will to risk it a little more.
“I just think you need to ride smart and once you make the final, you can risk it there.”