Following the tragic accident that killed Australian cyclist Amy Gillett and left two of her team-mates in a critical condition in hospital on July 18, Sydney's Kate Nichols has safely 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 and drove into the six-member Australian women's team while training for the Thueringen Rundfahrt.
20 year-old Nichols flew home accompanied by her parents, Kevin (a gold medallist from the Los Angeles Olympic Games) and wife Sylvia, with Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Psychologist Rosie Stanimirovic also on the flight. Nichols is the first of the five cyclists injured in the accident to leave the hospital and was reported to be in good spirits upon her arrival in Sydney over the weekend.
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. In the meantime, doctors from the University Clinic in Jena believe South Australian cyclist Alexis Rhodes, 20, and her Tasmanian team-mate, Louise Yaxley, 23, will be out of intensive care within a week.
"Both are quite chirpy and in good spirits," said AIS Director, Professor Peter 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. 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 rehabilitation phase of her recovery. Neither of them are suffering any complications so far," said Professor Fricker.
27 year-old Queenslander Lorian Graham is continuing with physiotherapy and rehabilitation with enthusiasm. Said Professor Fricker: "She will have stitches taken out this week and doctors will conduct final checks before she is scheduled for a return to Australia." 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 exercises for her left leg and each day is getting more practice on the crutches," said Professor Fricker.
Amy Gillett's funeral and memorial service was held last Friday in Ballarat (see news story), while a public memorial service is planned for 11am this Friday, August 5 at Adelaide's Superdrome.
Condolences and tributes
Cyclingnews has now published four pages of tributes from cyclists and supporters from around the world who've been affected by this tragedy. Please see: Amy Gillett: Tributes, 1976-2005, Part 1, and Part 2, Part 3 (posted July 21), Part 4 (posted July 22), and Part 5 (posted July 29).
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 Cycling Australia's web site and follow the link on the home page.
July 29: Amy Gillett's life recalled in moving service
July 28: Rhodes and Yaxley recovery 'amazing'
July 24: Yaxley improving, Rhodes still unconscious
July 21: AIS head 'optimistic' about recovery; 'Brownie' tries his best
July 19: Unprecedented carnage in GermanyJuly 18: Amy Gillett dead after crash in Germany