Kate Nichols arrives home
31 July 2005
Media Update from Cycling Australia and the Australian Sports Commission
Kate Nichols arrives home
Sydney's Kate Nichols, 20, has arrived back in Australia after being discharged from the University Clinic in Jena, Germany. Nichols required surgery to repair tendon damage to her right hand and fingers and sustained numerous cuts and abrasions when a teenage female driver lost control of her vehicle, crossed to the other side of the road and ploughed into the six member Australian women's team last Monday week.
Champion cyclist and Olympic rower, Amy Gillett (nee Safe), 29, was killed instantly and the other five riders admitted to hospital with varying injuries. The team was training for the the Thueringen Tour due to start the next day.
Nichols flew home accompanied by her parents, Los Angeles Olympic gold medallist, Kevin Nichols and wife Sylvia. AIS Psychologist Rosie Stanimirovic was also on the flight. Nichols is the first of the five cyclists injured in the accident to leave the hospital and was in good spirits and happy to be home.
Counselling and rehabilitation services have been arranged for all the injured cyclists back in Australia to help them recover both physically and mentally from the trauma of the accident.
Meantime doctors in the University Clinic in Jena, Germany believe South Australian cyclist Alexis Rhodes, 20, and her team mate Tasmanian Louise Yaxley, 23, will be out of intensive care within a week. Australian Institute of Sport Director, Professor Peter Fricker, spoke with both riders on the telephone over the weekend and says they are progressing well.
"Both are quite chirpy and in good spirits," said Prof. Fricker. "They are both looking forward to getting out of intensive care and everything going well they should be moved into a room together within a week.
"Alexis has been up and walking around and exercising but she will need to take it slowly because of the injury to her lung," said Prof. Fricker. "But most of the tubes are now out."
Yaxley has been suffering some pain in the wake of the successful surgery she underwent last Tuesday which involved skin grafts on both arms, the replacement of a fixator device for her right elbow and work on her injured left wrist.
"The doctors are managing her pain but they are really pleased with the way she's going and she is keen to get out of ICU and into the rehabiliation phase of her recovery," he said. "Neither of them is suffering any complications so far."
Queenslander, Lorian Graham, 27, has been out and about shopping with her parents in the local village and is continuing with physiotherapy and rehabiliation with enthusiasm.
"She will have stitches taken out this week and doctors will conduct final checks before she is scheduled for a return to Australia," said Prof. Fricker.
Sydney's Katie Brown, 21, has started getting around on crutches in preparation for her return home.
"She is obviously having a little more difficulty as far as mobility is concerned because both legs were injured and she has a broken arm but she is continuing weight bearing exercise for her left leg and each day is getting more practice on the crutches," said Prof. Fricker.
Amy Gillett's funeral and memorial service was held last Friday in Ballarat. The injured cyclists, along with some of the European based professional women riders, held a private memorial service in the chapel of the hospital on Friday to farewell their team mate. Also on Friday in Vienna, the Australian Team for the Junior World Championships held a memorial service for Amy. The service was led by team psychologist, Georgia Ridlet, and included pink candles, friendship poems, and stories about Amy from senior members of the team. In memory of Amy each member of the team pinned a pink ribbon (Amy's favourite colour) to the collar of their Australian Team uniform.
A public memorial service is planned for this Friday at 11.00am at Adelaide's Super-Drome.
Amy's family and Cycling Australia have established the Amy Gillett-Safe Cycling Foundation to honour her memory. The Foundation will assist with the recovery of her injured team mates, fund a sporting and academic scholarship program for promising female cyclists and promote road safety awareness amongst cyclists and motorists.
The organisers of the Thueringen Rundfahrt event transferred $24,000 (AUD) into the Foundation account over the weekend, the prizemoney from the event which sponsors, riders and team management chose to donate to honour Amy's memory. The event organisers also opened an account in Germany to accept donations from the German public and will then transfer these funds to the Foundation.
People wishing to donate to the Foundation should visit the Cycling Australia website at www.cycling.org.auand follow the links from the home page.
Cycling Australia has also established an email link for people who wish to send condolence messages to the family of Amy Gillett or to pass on their thoughts and wishes to those injured. Go to www.cycling.org.au and follow the link on the home page. Messages can also be sent via the Australian Sports Commission website www.ausport.gov.au
For further information please contact:
Gennie Sheer, Cycling Australia: +61 418 863 533
Simon Langford, Australian Sports Commission: + 61 418 605 541
Peter Logue, Australian Sports Commission: + 61 402 067 614