Simon Gillett – 10 years of the Amy Gillett Foundation
There are many things I will never forget.
Amy’s smile, how she looked in her wedding dress as she walked down the aisle and our last conversation when she joked about one of her teammates who was singing in the car alongside her as she travelled to a race in Germany.
And of course I will never forget the police officer who arrived at our home in Buninyong to tell me that Amy had been killed during a training ride with the Australian team in preparation for the Thuringen Rundfahrt Tour starting the following day.
As I flew to Germany with Rod Katz to bring Amy home, we began thinking about creating a memory for her, a legacy that could make the roads a safer place for cyclists and to also provide international competition opportunities for talented female cyclists in Australia.
An Olympic athlete and World Champion in the sport of rowing, Amy experienced the difficulty of getting the international competition needed to make it to the elite level in cycling.
To address this, part of the legacy was to create the Amy Gillett Cycling Scholarship to bridge the gap help those talented athletes make the next step by providing a pathway and financial support to train and race in Europe.
That was the beginning of the Amy Gillett Foundation.
The foundation has achieved so many things, but the three things I’m most proud of are the ones I think Amy would be most proud of.
The roll out of the A Metre Matters campaign in 2009 and the recent adoption in five states and territories of minimum passing distance legislation leaves me confident that we will achieve national adoption of the law.
Our scholarship holders have gone on to achieve great things. In 2014 we had five of our scholarship holders compete in the women’s event at the Tour de France. Our 2015 scholarship holder Dr Kimberley Wells now has a professional contract to race in Europe and our 2010 scholarship holder Rachael Neylan won a silver medal at the 2012 UCI road world championships.
And Amy’s Gran Fondo.
Everyone told me it couldn’t be done. Close the Great Ocean Road to cars for a day.
I had the idea to stage a ‘Gran Fondo’ or translated a “great endurance ride” and the Great Ocean Road – one of Amy’s favourite training locations – was the obvious spot.
The fact that just five years ago we started what has now become one of Australia’s best cycling events. In 2015 Amy’s Gran Fondo had more than 5,800 participants – from families through to the serious, plus an elite NRS women’s event with Amy’s Otway Tour and the craziness of Amy’s Wall.
It would make Amy very happy.
When I think back to that plane flight to Germany and what we dreamt of doing to honour Amy’s memory and make bike riding safer, we could never have believed we could do so much in ten years.
So as we mark the 10-year anniversary of the foundation, on behalf of Amy, to you all, I say thank you.