Louise Yaxley back on her feet, and engaged
By Gerard Knapp in Hobart, Tasmania
Emerging Australian riders Matt Goss and Mark Jamieson shared the top prize for male athletes at the Tasmanian Institute of Sport (TIS) annual athlete of the year awards in Hobart on Friday, November 11, 2005.
It capped off a golden week for the two riders, who were tearing up the boards in the Moscow velodrome as part of the Australian team pursuit squad that won the gold medal in the first round of the UCI Track World Cup for 2005/06.
Goss, who turned 19 while competing in Moscow, and Jamieson, 23, are both former junior world champions on the track and are emerging as key riders in the dominant Australian track endurance program. However, in accepting their awards, neither rider assumed they had a confirmed spot in the ultra-competitive Australian team pursuit squad.
The team has the Commonwealth Games next March as its key target and last year an 'all-star' Australian team including riders such as Brad McGee and Graham Brown smashed the world record when winning gold at the Athens Olympics.
Both of the younger riders also have recorded excellent results on the road, with Jamieson taking sixth place in the U23 individual time trial at the World Road Cycling Championships in Madrid in September.
The awards night was also significant for Louise Yaxley, a TIS cyclist who was one of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) riders seriously injured in Germany on July 18, when an out-of-control car smashed into her team when out training. The crash took the life of her team-mate Amy Gillett and put the other five riders in hospital.
Yaxley was one of the most seriously injured and was in a critical condition for several days after the crash. However, her recovery is progressing well the TIS awards dinner was one of her first opportunities to 'dress-up' and make a public appearance. Yaxley was in good spirits, considering her traumatic year, no doubt buoyed by her recent engagement to her boyfriend, Mark Padget.
Yaxley received warm applause when she took the stage to present a special achievement award to the former TIS head cycling coach, Kevin Tabotta, who's moved on to become the high performance manager of Cycling Australia earlier this year.
Tabotta has been replaced by the popular Paul Brosnan, but in his seven year-term as head cycling coach, Tabotta is credited with reinvigorating the cycling program in the state, culminating with his state team pursuit squad taking out the national prize at this year's national track championships, a first for Tasmania.
(Note: Cyclingnews is a sponsor of the TIS cycling program.)