Sunday, March 25, 2007

The luck and chance of life

I just want to say how sorry I am to hear of Aussie cycling champion Damian McDonald's death in a road accident last week. I saw the aftermath on TV - horrific - and felt sorry for the 3 who died and more sorrow again for their families. I also wondered how and why a simple but unexpected incident - a tyre blow out - could cause such a momentous and needless loss of life. But these things do happen, often through simple inattention, a rash move, an over-reaction and - perhaps the biggest one in my book - insufficient space kept between vehicles; now I wasn't there, I don't know why the trucks and cars in question crashed, but I do ask that everyone act more carefully out there on the roads. There's a need to concentrate, a need to slow down, to be careful and circumspect rather than rash and bold on public roads. We can take enough measured and calculated risks in racing, so let's all play it safe when we are just trying to get around in our daily lives.

From CN:

Former cycling champion dies in Melbourne tunnel accident

The 1994 Commonwealth Games road cycling gold medallist, Australian Damian McDonald, was killed last Friday in a car accident in Melbourne's Burnley Tunnel.

The accident started when a semi-trailer loaded with paper blew a tyre and pulled to the inside lane to wait for assistance. A chain-reaction collision of four cars and three trucks behind the stalled truck and subsequent fire left three confirmed dead. The accident occured just after 10am on Friday, March 23. Other drivers in the 3.4-kilometre tunnel were immediately instructed via the tunnel's emergency notification systems to evacuate while emergency crews worked to reach the accident location.

Cycling Australia released a statement of condolence on Sunday morning, Sydney-time, after the cyclist's name was released on Saturday.

"The board and members of Cycling Australia were saddened to hear of the tragic death of 1994 Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Atlanta Olympian, Damian McDonald, in Friday's accident in the Burley Tunnel in Melbourne. "We offer our sincerest condolences to Damian's family and friends," said Cycling Australia CEO, Graham Fredericks. "Our hearts go out to his wife Bree and the couple's young son as they try to cope with the loss of a wonderful husband and father.

"Damian played a prominent role in Australia's road cycling high performance program in the 1990's and was a valued member of the Australian road cycling team in World Championship, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games competition," said Mr Fredericks. "He will be sadly missed by his many friends within the cycling community."

McDonald, along with Brett Dennis, Henk Vogels and Phil Anderson, won gold for Australia in the road team time trial at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada and in 1995 his 42nd placing in the road race at the World Championships in Colombia secured for Australia the maximum number of riders on the start line for the 1996 Olympic Games.

Other highlights of McDonald's cycling career include his overall victory in the inaugural staging of the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia in 1996, fourth overall in the Rapport Tour in South Africa in 1993 and a sixth place in the road team time trial at the 1993 World Championships in Norway. He retired from international competition in 1997.

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