Crake back home for Christmas

Australian cycling medallist and stairclimbing champion Paul Crake, 29, from Canberra, was flown back to Australia on Wednesday this week. He will continue his recovery from spinal surgery in the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.

"It's good to be back in Australia and I am really looking forward to spending Christmas with my family after what has been a pretty traumatic couple of months for all of us," said Crake. "I also want to wish a sincere Merry Christmas to all everyone who has supported me since the accident and the many people, both friends and strangers, who have been thinking of me and have sent me messages of support and encouragement."

Crake was one of five cyclists blown off the road by a powerful wind gust during the Powernet Tour of Southland on Saturday November 11, suffering severe damage to his spine. New Zealand surgeons operated to insert a surgical rod and screws into his thoracic spine and grafted 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.

The Australian 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.

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