Amy Gillett's life recalled in moving service

By Gerard Knapp in Ballarat

It was a day that brought together her family, friends, supporters, current and former teammates from the two sports where she excelled - cycling and rowing. It was a day, to quote Pastor Murray Lydeamore, the cycling chaplain of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), "to celebrate Amy's life with gratitude."

On July 29, the funeral of Australian athlete, Amy Gillett (nee Safe) was attended by 300 mourners from around Australia and the world, at the Doveton Park Funeral Centre in Ballarat, Victoria.

Amy was struck down by an out-of-control car on July 18, 2005, while on a training ride in Germany, reconnoitring the course of the opening time trial of the Thüringen Rundfahrt stage race which was scheduled to start the following day. Amy died at the scene, while her five teammates were seriously injured and taken to hospitals where they are still recovering (see previous stories).

The death of this Australian rider sent a cold chill through the global cycling community, and it has also reached into the wider Australian population. For an athlete to die while representing her sporting country is akin to being killed on public duty, and the Australian media has shown immense interest and indeed respect towards Amy and her teammates.

The national media was in attendance in numbers at the service, with the national broadcaster sending one of its outside broadcast units to cover the funeral. While many in Australian cycling privately wish this same attention had been directed towards this team when it had achieved its numerous triumphs overseas, it was not the time for such feelings.

The Australian Government was represented by Senator Rod Kemp, the Federal Minister for Sport, while senior sports administrators, such as Peter Bartels, the chairman of the Australian Sport Commission and Graham Fredericks, CEO of Cycling Australia, were also among the mourners. (The government and the sports bodies reacted swiftly to the tragedy, with immediate financial assistance, including quickly-arranged flights to Germany for the families of the six cyclists.)

There were also many Olympic medallists and world champions from rowing and cycling at the service, who'd all trained and competed with Amy throughout her dual careers.

But despite the high-profile guests, it was a day for her family and friends. Inside the chapel, the funeral service was led by Pastor Lydeamore and Monsignor Henry Nolan of St Patricks, Ballarat, with poem readings and eulogies delivered by her family and close friends, and all fought back their tears as they spoke.

Click here for the full report.

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.

Related stories:
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

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