Canberra cyclist Paul Crake will be home in Australia for Christmas and will be admitted to a spinal care unit in Australia to continue his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery for injuries he suffered in a race crash on November 11 in New Zealand. Crake was one of five cyclists crashing during the eighth stage of the Powernet Tour of Southland and sustained severe injuries to his spine, lungs and ribs.
"I'm really looking forward to being back in Australia for Christmas," said the 29 year-old from his room in the Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch, adding that he has been overwhelmed by the messages of support he has received from around the world.
"I would like to thank all those people for showing their concern and sending me very positive thoughts," he said. "It means so much to me to receive the supporting emails and letters and that's a big part of what keeps me positive. I have received cards and emails from people I've never met before from around the world and it's really heartening.
"The continual support is really helping me keep my optimism and keep the battle going," said Crake. "I'm coming to terms with the accident now and trying to work through what's happened. I'm trying to keep my mindset positive and most of the time I have an optimistic outlook because my intention is to get out of the wheelchair.
"The doctors can't specifically say yes or no and there have been people in a lot worse condition than me who have recovered fully and that provides inspiration for me."
Crake is fully focussed on his recovery and doctors say he is well ahead of schedule in terms of what he is able to do. He is already spending up to seven hours a day in a wheelchair and working twice a day on strength and mobility exercises with the physiotherapists in the gym.
"The crash caused severe trauma to his spine and doctors say it will be six to eight weeks before the swelling subsides and the spine settles so they can see exactly what the damage is," said his father Peter Crake who, along with wife Elizabeth, is in Christchurch with their son. Crake's partner Daniela Zanon flew into Christchurch on Monday from her home in Bolzano in the north of Italy.
"Daniela had been due to arrive on Sunday but her train to Vienna (Airport) was delayed by a freight train breakdown on the line so she missed the flight," said Peter Crake. "Paul was very, very pleased to see her and she is spending all her time with him in the spinal unit."