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Update on Injured Australian Cyclists

Improvement in Loiuse Yaxley's Condition is Positive News

A joint statement from Cycling Australia and the Australian Sports Commission

Released at 22:30hrs, 23 July (Aus Eastern Standard Time), (14:30hrs Europe, 13:30hrs UK)

Family and friends of Tasmanian cyclist Louise Yaxley, 23, have been buoyed by news today that she has recognised her parents and satisfied a series of cognitive tests conducted by doctors at the University Clinic in Jena, Germany.

Louise had been heavily sedated and her breathing assisted by a ventilator but doctors today reduced the medication to bring her back to consciousness so they could carry out the tests.

"They asked her to poke her tongue out and she poked her tongue out," said Cycling Australia National Performance Director, Shayne Bannan. "There are still some issues but generally she repsonded well to the tests.

"Then they brought in her parents (Annette and Brian) and boyfriend (Mark Padgett) and even though she was fairly drowsy because of the medication it was clear she recognised them," he said.

Doctors are also happy with the progress of South Australian Alexis Rhodes, 20, and have decided against operating on her to repair broken bones in her back.

"She's making a lot of progress and the doctors are quite confident the bones around the spinal cord will heal themselves," said Mr Bannan adding that doctors may look at reducing her sedation in a few days and waking her up.

However for now both Alexis and Louise remain in intensive care. Today's medical update was welcome news for the family, friends and cycling community gathered in Jena to support the six cyclists injured in a freak accident last Tuesday (0140 AEST - Monday local time) which claimed the life of 2002 Australian Individual Pursuit Champion and former Olympic rower, 29 year old Victorian, Amy Gillett.

Amy died instantly when a teenage female driver lost control of her vehicle, crossed to the other side of the road and ploughed into the six member Australian women's team who were training for the a Tour due to start the next day. Her funeral followed by a memorial service will be held next Friday July 29th in Ballarat. A second memorial service will be held at Adelaide's Super-Drome on Friday August 5th.

Her husband Simon Gillett has been in Germany for the past 48 hours and is about to embark on an emotional journey to bring his wife home to Australia.

"Simon has visited the injured girls and spent time with all of us talking through a lot of things," said Bannan. "If there is anything positive to take from this tragedy it is the display of the strength of the human spirit.

"Simon, the parents of the injured cyclists and the cyclists themselves have shown such faith and such courage this week and that is something I will always remember."

Katie Brown, 21, Lorian Graham, 27, and Kate Nichols, 20, are all recovering well and are staying together in a private room with Nichols expected to be released sometime next week and the other two in two to three weeks time.

Medical Status Update

Two riders remain in intensive care

Louise Yaxley, 23, (TAS) - Doctors today reduced the sedation and brought her back to consciousness to perform some cognitive testing. She responded well to the testing and, despite her drowsy condition, recognised her parents and boyfriend. She remains in intensive care.

Alexis Rhodes, 20, (SA) - Doctors have decided against operating to repair broken bones near her spinal cord as they are confident the bones will heal without intervention. She is progressing well and doctors may try to bring her back to consciousness in a few days time.
She remains in intensive care, heavily sedated and aided by an autmotic ventilator.

Three riders in a satisfactory condition and in the same hospital room

Katie Brown, 21, (NSW) - Remains in a satisfactory condition and has been moving around the hospital in a wheelchair. Expected to be released in 2 to 3 weeks.

Lorian Graham, 27, (QLD) - Recovering well from her injuries. Expected to be released in 2 to 3 weeks.

Kate Nichols, 20, (NSW) - Recovering well and expected to be released in a week or so.

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



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