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Update on Injured Australian Cyclists

A joint statement from Cycling Australia and the Australian Sports Commission

Released at 10:30hrs, 21 July (Aus Eastern Standard Time), (02:30hrs Europe, 01:30hrs UK)

Below is the latest update from Germany in the wake of yesterday's tragic accident which claimed the life of Victorian cyclist, Amy Gillett, 29, and put five of her team mates in hospital. All the riders are now in the same hospital after Lorian Graham was transferred overnight. Lorian, Kate Nichols and Katie Brown are in the same room at the hospital.

Australian Institute of Sport Director, Professor Peter Fricker, held a media conference at the hospital overnight and below is the updated medical information for each of the cyclists.

The parents of the cyclists have agreed to the release of factual information on their daughters' injuries but the parents of Alexis and Louise in particular, have asked the media to please refrain from speculating as some reports have been based on inaccurate information and rumours and have caused distress to friends and family members.

"They want everyone to know they are optimistic about their daughters' recovery and extremely satisfied with the treatment they are receiving," said Prof. Fricker. "The Uni Klinik in Jena is a new facility and there is no rush to move them out of the facility because they are receiving the best possible care."

"Louise and Alexis are the most critically injured but both are very fit and strong and we have reason to be optimistic about their recovery," Prof. Fricker said.

Cycling Australia National Performance Director, Shayne Bannan, says the arrival of families and friends in Jena has lifted everyone's spirits.

"Last night Australian cyclists, Sara Carrigan, Olivia Gollan, Oenone Wood and Kate and Natalie Bates along with family and friends crowded into Kate, Katie and Lorian's hospital room for a visit," said Bannan. "It was a really positive experience for everyone and it was obvious to everyone the amazing women in the cycling program love each other very much and will do whatever they need to do to support each other through this tragedy."

Carrigan, Gollan, Wood and the Bates sisters came to the hospital the second stage of the Tour of Thuringen race. The first stage was cancelled due to the tragic accident and the organisers of the race instead held a memorial service for Amy Gillett. The women on the professional racing circuit are a very close knit community and all have been traumatised by the accident. The 60 competitors chose not to race during the second stage but rode from Zeulenroda to Greiz under neutral conditions with the seven remaining Australians in the race crossing the line a little way ahead of the rest of the field as a mark of respect for Amy and support for the injured riders.

Medical Status Update

Katie Brown, 21, (NSW) - Remains in a satisfactory condition after surgery on both her left knee and right leg. She also has fractures of three bones in her left wrist and her left ring finger is broken. Doctors expect her to be released from hospital in two or three weeks. Her parents Rodney and Lorraine Brown, brother Graeme Brown and his wife Hayley along with Katie's boyfriend Mark Renshaw are also in Jena.

Lorian Graham, 27, (QLD) - Remains in a satisfactory condition after surgery. She has a fracture of her right collar bone and the patella in her left knee. Doctors have fixed tension wire to her knee to support it. Her left arm has some abrasions but we are not aware of any fractures of her left arm or collar bone. Mother Lorian Graham and sister Desley will arrive in Germany this afternoon (AEST).

Kate Nichols, 20, (NSW) - Remains in a satisfactory condition after surgery to repair tendon damage in her right hand and fingers. Doctors have splinted her hand and fingers to minimise scar tissue and to assist in the return of full mobility in her hand. She has a small piece of glass in her eye which doctors will remove if necessary. Multiple abrasions and doctors removed a lot of glass from her wounds but she is already undergoing physiotherapy and expected to be released from hospital in a week or so. Parents Kevin and Sylvia are in Jena.

Alexis Rhodes, 20, (SA) - Remains in a critical but stable condition in intensive care. She has suffered serious chest trauma and spinal injuries and will require further surgery. She has fractures of parts of her thoracic spine and seven broken bones in her back. There is no evidence at this stage that her spinal cord has been damaged. There are bone fragments near her spinal cord and doctors will operate to remove those in due course. Doctors are keeping Alexis unconscious, on an automatic ventilator and will not wake her until they believe it is medically safe to do so. She also has extensive tissue damage. Parents Jenni and Greg Rhodes are in Jena. She is expected to remain in hospital for 4 - 6 weeks.

Louise Yaxley, 23, (TAS) - Remains in a critical but stable condition in intensive care. Louise underwent further surgery overnight to stabilise her condition. She has a small blood clot in her brain which is not causing any major problem at this stage and is being monitored by doctors. She has also suffered chest trauma and a puncture wound to her abdomen. She has a broken arm and severe damage to both arms and legs (grazing and abrasions which have stripped the skin from her limbs) that will require plastic surgery. Louise has not regained consciousness since the accident and is also on an automatic ventilator. Doctors will not wake her until it is medically safe to do so. Parents Annette and Brian Yaxley arrived early this morning and have visited the hospital and spoken with her doctors. Partner Mark Padget is also in Jena. She is expected to remain in hospital for 4 - 6 weeks.

Cycling Australia has 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
www.cycling.org.au and follow the link on the home page. Message can also be sent via the Australian Sports Commission website www.ausport.gov.au



Support services to aid Australian cyclists

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), and its network of psychologists and counsellors across Australia and overseas, has put in place a detailed action plan to deal with the aftermath of the tragic cycling accident in Germany earlier this week.

Head of the AIS Performance Psychology Department, Dr Michael Martin, gave details of the action plan at a news conference at the AIS in Canberra this afternoon.

Dr Martin also asked that the media in Australia and in Germany respect the privacy of the two AIS staff in Germany to allow them to carry out their work in difficult conditions. AIS and other specialist support services include:
Two AIS psychologists are currently in Germany, Rosanna Stanimirovic who works with the cycling team, and Ruth Anderson who is the AIS Residential Athlete Counsellor.
A network of psychologists in state institutions and academies of sport across Australia are in contact with affected athletes, coaches, support staff and athlete families.
The Australian Sports Commission has employed specialist trauma and grief psychologists to support institute and academy psychologists to take care of those affected by the tragedy.
The Australian Sports Commission has also employed a European-based company to provide additional trauma and grief counselling to European-based athletes, coaches, program staff and family.
The National Athlete Career and Education programme has an athlete counselling support service available for additional specialist support.
Dr Martin said a wide range of resources for coping with trauma, grief and loss have been made available to athletes, relevant coaches and staff across Australia. 'This is the most serious trauma incident involving Australian athletes overseas in recent memory,' Dr Martin said.

'It is important to realise that while the impact on the athletes themselves is the most severe, the flow on effects to family, friends, colleagues and support staff is also significant and needs to be managed in the short and longer term.

'Those close to the athletes who believe they might need psychological and/or counselling support shouldn't hesitate to contact the psychology department at the AIS or any of the state and territory-based sports institutes and academies.'




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