Australian cycling medallist and stairclimbing champion, Paul Crake, 29, from Canberra, has been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit and into the orthopaedic ward at Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand to continue his recovery from spinal surgery. He will remain in hospital in New Zealand until doctors give the all clear for him to travel back to Australia for admission to a specialist spinal care unit.
Crake, who is paralysed from the waist down, faces several months of rehabilitation. He was one of five cyclists blown off the road by a powerful wind gust as during the eighth stage of the Powernet Tour of Southland, north of Invercargill on Saturday November 11. Crake sustained minor fractures to the C1 and C2 cervical vertebrae, a fracture to the T5 thoracic vertebrae and dislocations from T5 down to T7. Last week, surgeons operated to insert a surgical rod and screws into his thoracic spine and graft bone from his hip into the spinal area to stabilise and realign his spine.
Crake was a member of the Australian team at the 2004 Road World Championships in Italy, was third in the road race at last year's Australian Open Road Championships and this year placed second on the fourth stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under into Willunga. This season, he raced as a professional in Italy with the Naturino-Sapore di Mare team.
He switched from stair-climbing to cycling in 2002. As a stairclimber he notched up five straight victories in the annual sprint up the 86 flights of stairs (1576 stairs) to the top of New York's Empire State Building between 1999 and 2003 and still holds the record for the fastest ascent of 9mins33secs.
People wishing to send messages of support to him can do so via email through the Cycling Australia website or by mail to:
Orthopaedic Trauma Ward (Ward 19)
Christchurch New Zealand