Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Richard Holland was hit by a car while training for the Ironman Race.
Richard Holland was hit by a car while training for the Ironman Race.

Long road back from coma for Dubai athlete

Richard Holland was hit by a car in the early hours of October 11 while he was cycling and training for the Ironman Race.

DUBAI // When Krystyna Maciejewski planned her future with her outgoing, sporty and exceptionally fit partner, it involved marriage and a family.

The 31-year-old could never have imagined any part of it would involve spending months at the bedside of South African Richard Holland, who is only able to communicate by blinking an eye.

Miss Maciejewski, a teacher who lives in Dubai but grew up in Canada, was at work when the news was broken to her by the principal.

“I just collapsed on the chair when she asked me to go into the room as I had already envisaged exactly what had happened. I knew he was going cycling that morning, as it was his routine. I just knew he had been hit by a car. I just broke down in tears and was shaking. I couldn’t speak,” she said last night.

Mr Holland, 30, was hit by a car in the early hours of October 11 as he cycled from his home in Motor City along Al Qudra Road to the cycle lane that heads towards Bab Al Shams.

The sales and marketing manager for the distribution company, Sport in Life, was in training for an Ironman contest. He suffered severe injuries to his brain as well as broken ribs, punctured lungs, a fractured sternum and a fractured right fibula.

Miss Maciejewski, who is Polish by birth, has been dating Richard for 18 months and said marriage and family was very much on the cards.

“We were very close. There’s no doubt in our minds that we were going to get married. That was the first time in my life I had planned on having a family – together with Richard. We saw our future together,” she said.

She added that she found out about the accident very quickly as fellow cyclists posted pictures of Richard’s bike on Facebook after the incident. He didn’t have ID on him but a friend recognised the bike and called Miss Maciejewski’s school.

She has since spent much of her time at Richard’s bedside at Dubai’s City Hospital alongside his mother, Judy Rothschild.

“I ask him yes and no questions and he is able to communicate by opening and closing his eye. As far as we understand, he knows I’m there,” Miss Maciejewski said.

“Mostly, I feel helpless. I’m used to making him feel better and making all the trouble go away – but this I cannot fix,” she added.

The driver of the car involved was arrested then released, pending a criminal case at the traffic court.

Mr Holland, who represented his country in the triathlon and was very safety aware, underwent neurosurgery and was put into a medically induced coma. Nearly two months on, his future is uncertain as there is no prognosis.

“It’s a brainstem injury. At this point we just have to wait for the brain to heal to make those connections again with the rest of the body,” Miss Maciejewski explained.

Mrs Rothschild, who lives in Australia, filled with tears when she spoke of hearing the news of her son’s injuries. Her husband and Richard’s stepfather, Colin Rothschild, told her of the accident after he received a call from Richard’s employer.

“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. When you get the phone call, you are so shocked and so terrified and so helpless because you are so far away. I can’t even describe how I felt,” she said.

Mrs Rothschild wants to take Richard back to Australia with her but, as he is not a citizen of the country, the family will have to pay for his care. She believes it will cost about A$1.5 million (Dh5.8m) for one year.

A campaign called “Back on Your Bike” has been set up to raise money for Richard.

Donations can be made at www.backonyourbike.com.

“Without a doubt I will be with him 100 per cent through this,” Miss Maciejewski added.

“If he goes, I will absolutely go to Australia. We had planned our future and we are still holding on to that. I haven’t lost hope. I’m going to be with him the whole time.”

ecleland@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Shah Rukh Khan performs at the IPL Gala dinner to open IPL VII at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.

In pictures: Shah Rukh Khan stars at IPL Gala dinner in Abu Dhabi

The superstar entertainer Shah Rukh Khan on stage last night at a gala dinner to launch the Indian Premier League cricket tournament.

No words can describe this April 17, your captions will

Have a catchy caption for this picture. Share it with us and we might publish it and reward you.

 When this 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on June 17, it is expected to attract a world record bid for a single stamp of up to $20 million (Dh73.4m). Courtesy Sotheby’s

Rare 1856 stamp up for auction at Sotheby’s

This is one of the world’s rarest stamps and when it goes up for auction in June it should fetch $20million. Its history since it was issued in 1856 is fascinating – and includes one murderous chapter, as Jonathan Gornall reports

 This Dh17,000 Miele system can prepare your choice of coffee - from capuccino to espresso - at a touch of a button. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Miele puts art in coffee making

Miele has devoted itself to the art of preparing the black liquid with its beautifully designed coffee machines, living up to its mantra of turning kitchens into cafés.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Amir Khan, during a workout at the Gloves Community Centre on March 24, 2014 in Bolton, England, says his fight will be the real main event in Las Vegas on May 3. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Amir Khan says bout with Luis Collazo ‘will steal the show’ in Las Vegas on May 3

British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan says his fight with Luis Collazo will be the main attraction on same fight card led by Floyd Mayweather Jr and Marcos Maidana, writes Omar Al Raisi.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National