Star marries the girl of his dreams

Inspirational Adelaide BMX star Sam Willoughby married the "girl of his dreams" in an emotional New Year's Eve ceremony in San Diego.

Willoughby, 26, and American BMX racer Alise Post exchanged vows 15 months after a freak training crash left Willoughby paralysed from the chest down.

But as he lay in hospital just days after his accident, the Olympic silver medallist vowed to stand for his wedding and dedicated every day since to his rehabilitation to fulfil his promise.

Close to 180 guests, many teary-eyed, attended the wedding including Willoughby's Adelaide-based parents Colin and Sharon, Olympic team-mate Anthony Dean and coach Wade Bootes.

Dean, who raced with Willoughby in Rio in 2016, was one of his groomsmen.

On the eve of their big day, Willoughby posted a photo on Instagram with the words:

"She was the girl of my dreams turned love of my life; in one more sleep she will be my wife. I love her more and more every day, she is beautiful wouldn't you say!"

Post and Willoughby during his recovery.
Post and Willoughby during his recovery.

The pair met in 2008 when they were both still teenagers and racing on the international circuit and Willoughby lived with Post's family when he left Adelaide for the US.

They both raced the London Olympics together in 2012 where Willoughby won a silver medal.

In 2014, sadly, Post lost her mother Cheryl to cancer and her memory has served as a motivating force for both of them.

In 2016 they raced together at the Rio Olympics where Willoughby missed the podium in the men's final but Post won a silver medal for the US in the women's final.

But their world was turned upside down just weeks later when in September, 2016, Willoughby crashed at his local Chula Vista track and was flown to hospital with two fractured vertebrae and a severely compressed spinal cord.

Surgeons replaced his C6 vertebrae with a titanium cage and fused his C5-C7 vertebrae together.

Willoughby wearing the revolutionary knee braces.
Willoughby wearing the revolutionary knee braces.

Willoughby has made remarkable progress in his recovery and is now able to pedal a bike, crawl with ankle weights and stand using custom-made knee braces which stop his legs from buckling underneath him. He was planning to wear the knee braces in his wedding to help him celebrate the big day.

"I've pictured it in my mind since the day I proposed to her but I'm sure it will be more emotional and nerve-racking when I actually get there," Willoughby said this week.

"I'm just very happy that I'll be able to be vertical at the ceremony with Alise and just enjoy the day as much as possible."