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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 29, 2005
More tributes to Amy Gillett - part 5
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 - this is the fifth page of tributes we have presented. (More tributes from around the world: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.)
Carmen & Richard Wearne, London UK: This is a tragedy that no words can describe. It is a loss like no other and Monster and I are just torn in pieces. You are so, so special Betty and will be forever in our hearts. To all our mates back home, Simon, Mary and Denis, we are thinking of you and miss you. Love Carmen & Monster
Alan & Jan Heal, Chester, England: As parents of another international cyclist, Rachel Heal, we were shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Amy Gillet. It brought home to us the reality of the risks that cyclists face both in training and racing. Our hearts go out to Amy's family and friends, and our thoughts and prayers are both with them and with her team colleagues, Alexis, Lorian, Louise, Katie and Kate. We wish them a full and speedy recovery. I'm sure that Rachel and also Sarah, our younger daughter now involved in the sport, would echo our good wishes.
Larissa Kleinmann, Team Stuttgart/German National Team: I would like to express my deepest sympathies to all those directly and indirectly damaged by the tragic death of Amy Gillett and her injured AIS teammates Katie Brown, Lorian Graham, Kate Nichols, Alexis Rhodes, and Louise Yaxley. The wounds are deep not only inside the AIS cycling team, the Australian cycling community, but the entire world of women's cycling and far beyond the boundaries of this sport.
Having just completed the 2005 Thüringen Rundfahrt - which will be remembered as the Tour of Tears by all -, it is now time for us to process this last week of emotional intensity. Whether organizers, fans, team staff or riders from all over the world, we were all one and the same: we felt the same, suffered the same, and spoke the same language with or without words. The grief was written in everybody's faces with tears rolling down in waves of Australian origin and any other nationality. We all felt the loss of Amy Gillett and the immense holes she left behind in her two passions of life: her sports of cycling and rowing as well as her husband.
I personally never really got to know Amy. However, my first impression of her was very positive - as positive as of all of her Aussie cycling mates. The Australian riders just have this special aura around them. You can't help it but be inspired by their charismatic personalities, energy, positive attitude, and this great humor wrapped into a unique team spirit that creates such an unbreakable and eternal bond among present and former AIS riders.
I cannot even imagine how hard it must be for the AIS riders, friends and family of Amy and her teammates but also for the young car driver who caused the tragedy and the Vlanderen/Capri Sonne Team who witnessed the scene first hand. Stay strong, we are all with you. You are not alone.
Truly amazing was witnessing the unity among the remaining Australian cyclists in the peloton in Thüringen: Nathalie & Kate Bates, Sara Carrigan, Rochelle Gilmore, Olivia Gollan, Emma Rickards, and Oenone Wood. They were unbelievable. The AIS program and the individuals that emerge from it are a role model not just to the entire world of cycling but world society in general.
I would like to wish Katie, Lorian, Kate, Alexis and Louise the very, very best on their way to recuperate from this tragedy both physically and emotionally. Stay strong, girls, you are Aussie cycling chicks, you are the best and toughest!!! You will be back on your bikes pursuing your life passion soon! Never forget to always follow your heart and get the best, purest, and most fulfilling out of life. It can be over any second. Appreciate. Seize. Go for it and do it for Amy who has given all of Australia's women cyclists wings to win that Olympic medal that she was determined to win in Beijing! Good luck to all Australian cyclists. You can do it and will do it!
Rest in Peace, Amy! You achieved what only few people achieve in their lives on earth: you touched and inspired individuals all over the world. We will all remember you forever.
Stuart Tolhurst, Secretary, Manukau City Veterans Cycle Club, Auckland, New Zealand: Members of the MCVCC offer their deepest sympathy to the family, friends and teammates of Amy Gillet following the tragedy that has befallen the AIS women's cycling team.
For those of us that cycle for competition and pleasure the risks are always present but the magnitude of this catastrophy is beyond comprehension. We all feel the loss of a fellow cyclist and can only hope that if any good can come of this heartbreaking accident it will lead to a greater awareness by motorists of their responsibility to other road users.
Ex Great Britain Cyclist Sara Symington: 'I'm lost for words to describe this tragedy: my sympathy and condolences go out to Amy's family (a great athlete, competitor and personality) and I wish all the other girls a very speedy recovery.
Mary Nilges, Kailua Hawaii: My heartfelt condolences go out to Amy's family and friends. I also wish her teammates speedy recoveries. I am a recreational cyclist living in Honolulu Hawaii and was absolutely devastated by the news. The roads on the island of Oahu are not bike friendly and I try to stay alert and focused while riding but there is absolutely nothing you can do when a car loses control and crashes into you or a group of your friends. It scares me to think of just how vulnerable we are out there on the roads and I hope that some day soon we will have safe roads with bike lanes in Hawaii. I am filled with sadness at the loss of a wonderful human being, athlete, wife, teammate, and friend. May Amy rest in peace and may her loved ones find comfort in their cherished memories.
Jochen Dornbusch National Women's Coach, Germany: Last Saturday in Cento, Italy, we were in the same Race with our Australian friends waiting for the Medical Control; I talked to Alexis about Germany. It is unbelievable the tragedy that happened to Australian Cycling and to the girls and their families. My thoughts are with the girls in the hospital, with Amy's family and friends and especially with Warren Mc Donald who has the hardest time in his life.
Zuyi, Vice-President, Road Division, Singapore Amateur Cycling Association: It is one of those things that none of us would think about when the boys and girls get out there to turn those pedals, yet the reality of it is ever present. On behalf of the riders and members of the staff from Team Singapore, Our deepest condolences to the family, friends, team-mates and all those who know Amy. And also to the girls who are still fighting their fight, get well, and get on the bike soon.
Helen Ellis, Women's Cycle Racing Association, Great Britain: On behalf of the women's cycling community in Great Britain we would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Amy Gillett. Our thoughts too are with all the riders, officials, family and friends involved in this terrible and tragic accident.
Deanna Almdal, Calgary, Alberta, Canada: As a person whose life was forever changed when her younger brother was hit and killed by a driver while out training for the provincial cycling championships here in Alberta, Canada, my deepest condolences to Wazza and the women he coached as well as their friends and families.
Warren was a cyclist here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1990 when my brother was killed. Warren, along with many other provincial cyclists, participated in a cycling procession at the funeral. This tragedy brings back some memories for me and perhaps for him as well.
I can't bear to imagine how it felt to be alone, as Warren was, at the accident site with the six women in the aftermath. My thoughts, as well as the thoughts of many other provincial area cyclists, are with you all at this horrible time.
John Papanikolaou, Greece: What can one say for this tragic event except my sincere condolences to Amy's family. Speedy recovery to all the girls and kind regards to Katie from Greece.
Yvette Fuser, Aussie cyclist, Treviso, Italy: Personally, and speaking for many other cyclists and non-cyclists here in Italy, I don't think the dull feeling of sorrow will ever fade. This is truly a tragic event that became headlines even in the small town of Tarzo in the Province of Treviso where I live.
Being Australian myself and racing competitively in Italy, I received hundreds
of emails, sms' and phone calls from people in Italy, Australia and other countries,
expressing their sympathy for my fellow Australians and most of all Amy Gillett.
These are truly amazing people who are living life to the most and enjoying
the joys of sport and feeling part of a large family with similar passions and
Each kilometre I ride and each mountain I climb, I dedicate it to you Amy,
the recovering Aussie squad and their support staff and coach. Life is precious:
Ii beg that you all grasp each moment tightly and thank the fact that you are
alive and well.
Roger Blackwell, President, Noarlunga & South Coast Cycling Club, Adelaide: The members of the Noarlunga and South Coast Cycling Club are deeply saddened by the loss of Amy and the serious injuries that have befallen her friends. Amy was a wonderful competitor and a lovely person. We fondly remember her as a former winner of the Mayor's Trophy at our Glenelg criterium. Our condolences go to all of her family and friends. We fervently hope for the recovery of Alexis, Louise, Lorian, Katie and Kate.
Doug Blades, Toronto, Canada: I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the family, friends and loved ones of Amy Gillett and the other girls that were hurt in the accident. I live in Canada but the ripples are felt all over the world. I have raced and trained with main Australian cyclist and triathletes,they have all been the nicest kindest people. Amy your memory will live strong in the hearts of many. God Bless.
Adrian Booth and Nicole Ware, Brisbane Australia: It is with a great amount of shock that both Nicole and I absorbed this event. To all of the family, friends and loved ones of those affected by this event, we hope that strength, peace and calm come to you. We are thinking of you. The courage you have shown in dealing with tragedy is amazing, as much as the bond of family, friendship and love is in itself amazing. We offer the utmost of understanding, may peace of mind come to you.
'Skippy McCarthy': Having met many of the 'AIS ladies' I am devastated by the news of the loss and injuries sustained on Monday. It's hoped that the remaining women will make a full recovery.
Offering condolences alone seems inadequate. I know that the families will want to be left in peace to grieve and the AIS staff also. As an 'Aussie over there' I'll be happy to offer any assistance.
Aussies are held in such high esteem by the 'whole cycling community' that I cannot imagine a dry eye in any of the men's or women's cycling teams. During eight seasons in Europe Ii cannot think of one event that has caused me such distress. My heartfelt condolences to all, with best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.
Girls, as you cross the winning line during the coming seasons do as Lance did and point to Amy. God bless you all - you are an inspiration to all Australians and the world cycling community.
Amateur cyclist, Scotland: On Behalf of all amateur riders across Scotland, I'd like to offer our condolences to Amy's family, friends and colleagues. A sad, sad loss.
Only fellow cyclists can appreciate the dangerous undercurrent that exists when sharing roads with motor vehicles. Why do we still do it? Because it's our passion...it's who we are. Amy was doing something she loved...and that's small comfort to know she was doing something that made her so happy. God Bless You, Lassie.
Malgorzata & Brett Patching, Denmark: The AIS Women's Team is something very special, and we were stunned to read of the tragedy near Zeulenroda. Our deepest sympathy to Amy's family and friends. Our thoughts go out to the girls in hospital in Jena and their families, Warren McDonald and the rest of the team. Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery girls.
Heidi & Ivan Ward, Queensland: What a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with Amy's family and friends and of course to the other members of the team - all our best for a speedy recovery.
Bev and Terry Oakford, Peterhead, South Australia:
A black day indeed for all cyclists, to lose such a talented rider and to see
so many of our cycling squad injured is tragic indeed.
D. Nichols, A & J Adan and Family, Albury, G & J Reardon & Family, Melbourne, Australia: Our Deepest Sympathy goes out to the girls and their families. Also for all the Support Staff of the A.I.S, it is such a tragedy that this has happened, to our future stars. Our family have been involved in cycling for many years, and this hurts so much to see these girls with so much potential killed and hurt so badly in this way. Our Hearts are full of sadness with the death of Amy, not knowing her at all, but feeling like we do. Alexis and Louise - keep fighting - you can beat this. To Kate, Katie and Lorian use each other for support. The guys from the AIS, you are suffering in different ways, BE STRONG, BE UNITED help each other in this very sad time. A Tragic time for cycling - our prayers are with you all.
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