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Dad's wisdom helps Willoughby win silver
Roger Vaughan
06:37 AEST Sat Aug 11 2012

Six days before Sam Willoughby's 21st birthday, a phone call with his dad became a priceless early gift.

Willoughby was doing his head in on Thursday night, obsessing about a difficult progression for the BMX world champion through Olympic quarter-finals earlier in the day.

So his father Colin used an AFL analogy as he calmly talked him through the psychology of the situation.

On Friday, Willoughby was sublime as he stormed through the semi-finals and won silver in the final behind Latvian Maris Strombergs.

It is Australian cycling's first medal in the event since it became an Olympic discipline four years ago.

Australian cycling will finish these Games on one gold, two silver and three bronze, equalling Sydney as their second most-successful Olympics.

"Yesterday was a bit overwhelming for me, for the first time the whole Olympics hype got to me and I felt it," Willoughby said.

"I made a lot of mistakes, it was a frustrating day.

"He put it to me it's like a grand final in the AFL. The first five minutes you're a wreck - you can't mark the ball, can't kick a goal.

"And he said `that was your first five minutes, you'll clear it up tomorrow'.

"Once I thought about it like that, I had more fun here today."

Willoughby drew gate five for the final, which was not ideal, but he saw it as a blessing - again, it relieved the pressure and relaxed him.

He raced superbly and nearly caught Strombergs.

But the Latvian star was too smart as he successfully defended his Olympic title.

"Maris is a smart guy. We race each other every weekend and he was smart enough to move to the inside (on the third straight) - I couldn't make it through there," Willoughby said.

"Once I saw him moving over I thought I'd play it safe.

"I wasnt going to try to smash him on the last corner and cost myself a medal."

Willoughby's medal was the highlight of the Australian BMX campaign in London.

World time trial champion Caroline Buchanan just wanted to leave the venue as quickly as possible after she dominated the women's event, only to suffer a bad start and finish fifth in the final.

Khalen Young ended his outstanding international career after failing to make the final, while Lauren Reynolds was already thinking about Rio when she also did not progress past the semis.

Those two riders crashed, but neither were hurt seriously.

Brian Kirkham did not make it past Thursday's quarters.

Young revealed the next stop would be Las Vegas, where he will help Willoughby celebrate his 21st.

That prompted the obvious question - has Willoughby seen the outrageous comedy The Hangover?

"There's a possibility I might end up in Las Vegas," Willoughby said cautiously.

"I have seen the movie The Hangover, but I would never get up to anything like that."

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