The Amy Gillett Foundation has marked its tenth anniversary this week and announced the 11th recipient of its scholarship that provides athletes with the opportunity to race and train with the Australian national team in Europe. Louisa Lobigs, who is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Western Australia, from the Holden Women's Cycling Team, is the 2016 scholarship recipient.
Formed on 24 February 2006, the Amy Gillett Foundation has strived to ensure that "everyone has the right to arrive home safely" through a series of initiatives. Primarily through the 'a metre matters' campaign, launched in 2009, that drivers need to allow a minimum overtaking distance of one metre. The campaign became law late-last year in South Australia where the government mandated the minimum overtaking distance. The Queensland and ACT government are currently two year trials of the minimum overtaking distance with New South Wales to implement its own two-year trial from next month.
"In our hearts we wish there was no such anniversary," Amy Gillett Chairman Mark Textor said in a statement. "That would mean that Amy was still with us.
"She would have pursued her sporting dreams to their conclusion and, having celebrated her 40th birthday in January, she would be enjoying the next phase of her life. Of course, we know this is not possible."
Amy Gillett was killed by a driver whilst training with her Australian team on July 18, 2005, in Germany on the eve of the Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen race.
"Due to the strength of her husband, Simon, and parents, Mary and Denis, they determined to remember Amy by creating a foundation that would work for the safety of all those who ride a bike – whether, like Amy, it’s as a profession in the elite peloton, as a weekend warrior who dons the lycra, or whether it’s for transport or the simple joy of riding a bike," Textor added.
"As can be seen by these milestones we have achieved much in ten years – from programs such as ‘a metre matters’, ‘It’s a two-way street’, Remembering Amy for a Reason and Austcycle through to events such as Amy’s Gran Fondo, Amy’s Rides and the Share the Road Tour," Textor said.
"Our safety messages have reached millions of Australians and now, we are proud to say, five Australian jurisdictions have laws that protect bike riders through variations of the minimum overtaking distances or ‘a metre matter laws’."
The 'mission' of the foundation is "for safe cycling in Australia and zero bike rider fatalities". To be achieved through implementation of the minimum overtaking distance laws across Australia and further research into rider safety.
While the foundation is focused on improving the safety of cyclists across Australia, the Amy Gillett Foundation Scholarship has been an equally important component of its vision, allowing the likes of Kimberley Wells (Colavita Bianchi), Lizzie Williams, Orica-AIS) Rachel Neylan (Orica-AIS), Carlee Taylor (Liv-Plantur) to pursue their professional ambitions in Europe.
Simon Gillett, Amy's husband, described his excitement of announcing an 11th recipient of the scholarship in Lobigs.
"Amy had a great love for life, sport and education,” Gillett said. "This scholarship is a legacy to Amy’s life and ambitions, and Louisa is showing the same excellence and determination in her sport as well as her education. Louisa has the potential to become a superb athlete, and we can’t wait to see the passion she will bring to her role as an Ambassador."
For Lobigs, the scholarship will allow her combine her dual ambitions of cycling and studying.
“It’s a real honour, a lot of amazing athletes have had it in the past and it’s inspiring to be able to represent Amy and the work of the Amy Gillett Foundation,” Lobigs said. "I love training and that takes up a good part of my day, but I find the Uni work gives me the balance I need to stay motivated in my training and at Uni."