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The AIS Women's Team Diary 2005
Cyclingnews has been pleased to publish a diary contributed by the members of the Australian Institute of Sport's Women's team as they conduct their European campaign. For 2005, the team had a new lineup, including Amy Gillett, Katie Brown, Jenny Macpherson, Kate Nichols and Alexis Rhodes, who joined existing members Lorian Graham and Louise Yaxley to form a tight crew to take on the world.
On Monday, July 18, 2005, everything changed. In the light of the tragic event that took the life of Amy Gillett and put her five team-mates in hospital, the AIS women's road cycling program has been suspended. We believe the fighting spirit these athletes have displayed on the road will extend to their recovery from their injuries and we hope one day to once again bring you their stories in their own words.
Also see: Index to 2005 race reports and entries
Tribute, July 22, 2005
More tributes to Amy Gillett - part 4
Since the tragic news broke Tuesday morning of the death of Amy Gillett in a crash that also injured all five of her Australian cycling team-mates we have been inundated with messages of support and sympathy from all over the world. More than anything, this brings home that cycling is a global community and the loss of one of us touches us all. Cyclingnews is honoured and humbled to be able to provide a platform for everyone's feelings. More tributes from around the world: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.
Leeanne Manderson, Perth, Western Australia: My deepest sympathies to Amy's family and friends. For all that knew Amy, even if it was only a few races on the road and track, they were aware of Amy's love for life and everyone in it. The news came to me, while I'm racing in the USA, and my heart just sunk, there is no other words to describe how this terrible news has affected me.
I also want to say keep fighting Kate, Katie, Alexis, Lorian and Louise and wish you all a speedy recovery. Best wishes from my team in the USA (HUB Racing).
Joe McCullagh, AIS Physiology Department, Canberra: Through my position at the Australian Institute of Sport Physiology Department I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Amy, Louise, Alex, Lorian, and Katie Brown, all of whom were involved in the tragic accident in Germany. My condolences go out to the Gillett family for their loss. Amy was an amazing person, super friendly, energetic, vibrant, and it was plain to see her drive and dedication towards her chosen sport. Although these words may be of little comfort, at least she died doing something that she loved, and it comes as no surprise that she was taking the lead and inspiring her teammates to push harder at the time of the accident.
I also wish to offer my sympathy to the other five girls and their families. A nicer bunch of athletes you will never meet. I pray that all of you get through this tragic time and that the physical and emotional scars are quick to mend.
Lastly, I would like to offer special support to Louise, who is at this time still fighting for her life in Germany. Louise and I attended university together in Tasmania, and had many conversations while the cycling team was staying here at the AIS. You are one of the sweetest girls I have ever met, and I will never forget you bringing me dessert to make my time a little more pleasurable while staying up all night on altitude house monitoring duty. I only wish that there is some way that I could return the favour. I just wanted you to know that I am thinking about you, and I wish you, and all the girls, a full and speedy recovery.
Michael & Katie Knight: Every one of these girls are an inspiration to all Aussie cyclists, they are riders who all our young girls look up to and admire. Their strength, talent, dedication, ethics and achievements are the foundation of australian cycling. Taken in such tragic circumstances,we are deeply saddened by the loss of amy, our thoughts are with simon and amy's family at such a hard time. Our prayers and well wishes also to the girls who remain in hospital, stay strong and keep fighting, we are all behind you. Best wishes for a fast recovery.
Nick Gates, Australian Davitamon-Lotto rider: A horrible tragedy has happened; I wish to extend my sincere condolences to Amy's family and friends, and wish the other girls a full recovery. The cycling world's prayers are with you all.
Darrell Llewellyn McCulloch (former AIS and National women's team mechanic) and Tania Shipton (former AIS resident and employee): Nothing can be changed now, words cannot repair this tragedy. All we can hope for and wish is that the riders, the rider's family, and team support staff involved in this terrible tragedy can heal physically and emotionally as swiftly as can be expected and move on to rewarding and fruitful lives. This will be understandably very difficult and the healing will never be totally complete.
The loss of Amy is terrible and in this remote way, we pass on our love, strength and much healing to her husband, parents, friends and team mates. We cannot sufficiently express the sadness of this accident in our hearts, it just cannot be done by our words.
Tania's and my thoughts also extend to the young driver of the car. Let us not forget that she did not set out to hurt anyone that day; now she has a lot to deal with as well. Tania and I wish her swift healing and a prosperous future as well.
Having worked and lived with the national women's team in Europe and Australia in past years I know that the team is a very closely linked family of riders and support staff. This close knit team is what makes the team so special, unique and rewarding to be part of. This accident will be felt for many years.
Personally I was to be looking forward to working with Warren and the team again at the Commonwealth games next year, now my heart grieves for Amy and the team. I feel so guilty for my charmed life, the good times I had with the team, for many, the good time to be had is now spoiled. Love to you all.
Meredith Miller, Team S.A.T.S, Metz, France: My sincerest sympathies to Amy's family, friends and husband. Amy was such a terrific woman and athlete. Her smile and happiness were infectious. She was such a joy to be around and I am privileged to say that I had the opportunity of knowing her and riding alongside her at many races. I have lasting memories of her from this year's Tour de l'Aude that I will always treasure.
To Alexis and Louise: Keep on fighting. You girls are so strong and determined. I know you will pull through this and the world will see your smiles again.
To Katie, Kate and Lorian: stay strong. May your road to recovery be swift.
Jessica Amy, World Championship team, 2000: To Amy's family and friends I send my heartfelt condolences.
Although I haven't raced since 2002, I still feel very much a part of the community. To my friends that are injured... Louise-- You have an amazing inner strength and the will to fight on. You've had it since we raced in W/17s! You make a race for yourself in whatever position you are. Fight on champ.
Katie - You're a gutsy fighter, and I know that with the support of all your
family and friends you will get through this and come out on top. Stay strong
Andrew Logan, National/AIS women's cycling coach 1993-97: When I learnt of the accident in the early hours of Tuesday morning I was in total shock. Although it has been some time since my years as coach with the Australian women's cycling team, I have previously travelled the roads of Thuringen, been in local hospital with injured athletes, Wazza was a scholarship coach in our program and Kate Nichols, I have known since birth.
This accident evokes my memories of the untimely death of Darren Smith, a Barcelona Olympian and AIS scholarship holder. I listened to the words of Robbie (at the tour) and how he felt - he then, lost his best mate; how has this affected him? And now, once again, such devastation. We in sport and as coaches live, travel and work with athletes to aspire to achieve their dreams and vision. They become one of us - extended family. It is difficult to comprehend, to come to grips with the taking of life and such talented life away from us. My wholehearted sympathy to the family and friends of Amy and to all the athletes and staff, I wish all the best. Be strong and fight your way back.
Zoe Southwell: I am still stunned and shocked at this tragic event. The enormity of what has happened is too much to comprehend, one of the saddest days for cycling. Firstly I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to the Gillett and Safe families and all the friends of Amy. I never met Amy, but I raced with her on many an occasion and I what I will remember most about her is that huge beautiful smile of hers - every time you saw her, there was that smile. You will be missed by many people Amy, may you rest in peace Amy."
To the five other girls seriously injured, our sympathy and thoughts are with you and your families, particular Kate and her parents Kevin and Sylvia. "Kate, you have provided many an entertaining moment on those early morning rides - a great person to be around, I wish you a speedy recover and I look forward to many more laughs on your return home."
Also to Katie and her parents Rod and Lorraine - "Katie, we have not spoken much in the past few years, but I remember the good times we had together both on the bike and our competitiveness towards each other and the times we spent together off the bike. I wish you a safe and speedy recovery.
To Louise and her parents, Brian and Lynette - "Louise, you are such a positive and happy person, a great friend to have, a friendship I hope will last for many more years to come. Keep fighting Lou, you're a tough cookie. My thoughts are with you and I wish you a speedy recover as well."
To Lorian and Alexis and their families, keep fighting on girls and be strong, and once again my thoughts are with you on your road to recovery.
Rita Ellinikaki Greek national cycling team: My deepest sympathy to Amy's family and speedy recovery to all the girls. Kind regards to Katie Brown who was my team mate in Italy and is a very good friend.
Brian, Jeannette, Daryl and Hayley Margrate, South Australia: We would like to express our deepest sorrow and condolences to Amy's family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with Alexis, Katie, Lorian, Kate, Louise and their families and friends.
Lucy Maguire Coffs Harbour Cycle Club: I never met Amy but she was still an inspiration for me as are all the Aussie girls who race professionally here at home and overseas.
Being a female road cyclist myself I look up to them and their fantastic efforts. They inspire me to better myself and the pain I suffer on the hills whilst racing is now nothing compared to the pain all those who knew and loved Amy so well must be feeling and will forever do so. To Lorian, Katie, Alexis, Kath and Louise my thoughts and prayers are with you and also to your coach Warren McDonald, who witnessed the tragedy - we are thinking of him too.
Abraham and all members of KOTRT: My condolences from Malaysia and all the Penang Wrecking Crew. We are all sad when one of us is involved in something tragic. May God comfort those who mourn.
Hannah Banks, Australian National Team: Amy is an amazing woman, her beautiful smile and enthusiasm for life will be remembered in our hearts forever.
Until Monday myself and eight other members of the National Team lived and trained together in Italy, we are all close friends and have shared hours of fun and laughter. As one of the three girls not on that training ride it's been hard to come to grips with the horrific and unexpected tragedy. I wish I could have been there for you all on the day and still be holding your hands now. We've been flown back to Australia but our thoughts and prayers have stayed with you; you're all such strong girls and have so many people around to support and love you. We will all get though this. As Wazza always told us, safety in numbers…stay positive and strong.
My heart goes out to all the families and friends of the girls, and to the fantastic AIS staff.
Linda Cappello: My deepest sympathy and condolences goes to Amy Gillett's husband and family. My thoughts and prayers are with you both Alex and Louise at this time - both of you are vibrant people and I am sure your strength and determination will get you through this awful time. To the remainder of the girls - Kate, Lorian and Katie - all the best for a speedy recovery.
Wazza - you are a wonderful person and have done so much for cycling. My thoughts are with you at this tragic time - be strong.
Ilenia Lazzaro (Team Colnago): There are no words for what's happened. No words. Italian pro cyclists are near AIS team and pray for Amy.
Dave Lloyd, Cycle coach and ex-Professional cyclist, UK: It was at the Magali Pache that I met Amy, where I was looking after Wendy Houvenaghel. We met her and the rest of the Australian girls at the presentation before the race. I was impressed by the team, the manager, Warren McDonald and the whole Australian set up over in Italy. The team morale was BRILLIANT and Warren was very helpful to me at the race. We had a chat with the girls at the presentation and Amy was bright, amusing and like all Australians, a WINNER.
I am devastated by this news and I wonder how long it takes for people to realise that vehicles in the wrong hands are LETHAL. I am not religious, but I feel SO sorry for all involved in this tragedy, especially Warren, who was following the girls at the time. Also, the other girls who are still in hospital and all their families - words are useless, I know, but I feel so sorry for Amy's family and all the others concerned, and just hope the injured girls will fight on and my thoughts are with them.
Andrew Beacroft: I first heard the news of the accident and death of Amy Gillett on the internet and felt my heart sink. Not only have we lost another shining role model for the sport of cycling, but we have also lost a person who found humour and zest in everything she did. Australia may not be as big a cycling community as there is in Europe but I am sure of one thing. We more than make up for it in heart and it has hit us all hard.
We are as proud as any country when it comes to our sportspeople. And we are all united in grief over the loss of a friend and fellow Australian. We are all thinking of her team members as well and wait for the news of them pulling through.
Karen D'Auria, Gold Coast, Qld: It is with a heavy heart that I write this message to the girls and support staff of the AIS team and their families and friends affected by this terrible tragedy.
I would like to send my deepest sympathy and condolences to Amy's family and friends in these saddest of times. To Alexis and Louise, keep on fighting, may the spirit and love of every Australian thinking of you help you win this race. To Lorian, Katie and Kate, my thoughts are with you - may you recover quickly and be stronger and healthier than ever.
Kharne Hammersley, Launceston, Tasmania: My deepest sympathy to Amy's family and closest friends, I am just devastated; I keep pinching myself to see if this is real or not, I just keep seeing it on the news and I am completely shocked.
Louise and I are very good friends; I first met her when I started cycling
in 1999, and since then our friendship has grown over the years. She has got
a heart of gold, and would do anything for you.
Also to Lorian, Katie, Kate, Alexis; keep fighting with that true Aussie spirit.
Al Ruigrok, Willow Grove, PA: Please extend my sorrow and prayers to Ms Gillet's family and team mates. Don't let her death and pain of the other ladies be forgotten. Support more women's bike events. Watch, read and demand more coverage from the press. I know the riders of this year's Tour will honour her memory and hope for the speedy recovery of her team mates. Thank you.
Stu Sanders, Ballarat: Deepest sympathies to Amy's husband Simon, family and closest friends, training and racing partners, coaches and staff from AIS. An unbelievable tragedy. We ride the roads knowing the dangers and accepting them because of our love for the sport. Amy loved this sport. Motorist's worldwide need to be educated about the rights a cyclist has in everyday cycling and during racing at such a high level. Let's start to educate them about us. This kind of thing should never happen to one so great. She will be sadly missed.
Steve Peterson, CycleSport Victoria: On behalf of the Board and staff of CycleSport Victoria we pass on our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Amy Gillett, especially to husband Simon. Our thoughts are also with Katie Brown, Lorian Graham, Kate Nichols, Alexis Rhodes and Louise Yaxley and their friends and families
Amy has represented Victoria on several occasions with impressive results and we are proud to have had her ride in the Big V. A member of the Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club, she will always be remembered
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