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The entire Olympics community is holding its collective breath and praying that Saya Sakakibara is alright after she was stretchered off the track following a massive crash in the BMX event at the Tokyo Olympics.
Sakakibara was leading her semi-final race when she appeared to collide with American opponent Alise Willoughby.
Saya Sakakibara crashes in the final semifinal run of the BMX. #Tokyo2020 #OlympicGames #BMXRacing #Australia #crash pic.twitter.com/YuZCkcvdQQ
- Van (@van_comedy) July 30, 2021
As their wheels got caught up during an overtake, both riders hit the deck with huge force and medical staff sprung into action to help out.
Clearly injured, Sakakibara lay motionless on the course before being stretchered off for further examination.
According to Australian broadcaster Channel 7, Sakakibara was visibly "shaken" and officials are continuing to monitor her condition.
Thankfully, it's understood she was conscious.
Difficult scenes in Run 3 of the Women's BMX Semi-finals.
Saya Sakakibara goes down hard, we hope she's okay :pray::flag_au:#Tokyo2020 ' #7Olympics pic.twitter.com/oRtLX2tE30
- 7Olympics (@7olympics) July 30, 2021
The live scenes on the course were so confronting that Channel 7 decided not to air them immediately, although replays later on showed just how devastated Willoughby was, breaking down in tears in the arms of her coach.
Unfortunately, Sakakibara and Willoughby are all too familiar with awful BMX accidents.
Sakakibara's older brother Kai was on course to compete at the Tokyo Olympics but a terrible crash less than a year ago left him with permanent brain damage to the point where he needed to relearn how to walk and talk again.
Willoughby's husband Sam was actually an Olympic silver medallist for Australia too, although he was involved in a devastating BMX accident which left him paralysed.
Upon hearing the news of Sakakibara's injuries, fans from around the globe flocked to social media to pay tribute and wish her a speedy recovery.
Let's hope she's OK.
"He's on that journey with me all the way."
A beautiful interview with :flag_au: Saya Sakakibara, who has qualified for the semi-finals on her brother's birthday. #Tokyo2020 ' #7Olympics pic.twitter.com/xoR8Ko0wSI
- 7Olympics (@7olympics) July 29, 2021
"I feel like I let everyone down, especially my brother." - Saya Sakakibara.
Heartbreaking to see her in tears. Saya, you haven't let anyone down - we're so glad you're okay. #BMXRacing
- Veronica Eggleton (@veggleton) July 30, 2021
A medal for Saya Sakakibara would be the emotional high point of these Games. Saya and brother Kai's story has been told beautifully by @MattCarmichael in recent years and he'll be trackside for today's semi final at 11:15am AEST #BMXRacing #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/Eoz3fjriGB
- Ben Damon (@ben_damon) July 29, 2021
Not sure what Elise Willoughby was trying to do in her race against Saya Sakakibara. Both had pretty much qualified for the bmx final. Huge concern for the Australian now; her family must be terrified. #BMXRacing
- Bruce Guthrie (@brucerguthrie) July 30, 2021
Thinking of Saya Sakakibara !!! She was flying, totally going to win that race and she was smashed from behind! Hope she's ok!!! Please god let her be ok!!!!
- Rennae Stubbs OLY (@rennaestubbs) July 30, 2021
Saya Sakakibara.....What a wonderful young lady. Hold your head high. You are a credit to your family and country.
- Ray Gatt (@Gatty54) July 30, 2021
HEAT 1 Run 3/3 - Heartbreaking scenes with Saya Sakakibara crashing on the 3rd straight.
Saya was taken off via a stretcher and will take no further part in the racing.
We will provide an update as soon as it is available.
All our thoughts are with Saya.#TokyoTogether
- AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) July 30, 2021
if Saya Sakakibara is hurt i reckon that is definitive proof that this universe sucks and we need to find a new one #Tokyo2020
- Vince Rugari (@VinceRugari) July 30, 2021
Oh no, please let Saya Sakakibara be ok - surely this family has been through enough... :pray: #Tokyo2020 @AUSOlympicTeam
- Giaan Rooney (@GiaanRooney) July 30, 2021
Really scary scenes in the #BMXRacing semi-finals with Aussie Saya Sakakibara being stretchered off after a scary looking fall while leading. Fingers crossed she's OK. Her brother Kai was seriously injured in a crash in 2020. #Tokyo2020
- Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) July 30, 2021
Sending hugs to Connor Fields and Saya Sakakibara after they crashed out of the cycling BMX racing semi-finals. We're thinking of you!
- Olympics (@Olympics) July 30, 2021
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