Judy Rothschild with her son Richard Holland who is in a coma at the City Hospital. He was hit by a car as he was cycling from his home in Motor City Dubai. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News

Dubai: A South African triathlete who was critically injured in a road accident, and is still only semi-conscious two months later, has inspired fundraising campaigns in Dubai, Thailand and Australia.

On October 11, Richard Holland, 30, was training in Dubai for Thailand’s Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket race. He was riding with full safety gear when he was hit from behind by a car. He sustained severe traumatic brain and other injuries and remains in hospital.

For months, Richard’s mother has been at his bedside and said her son faces an unknown long road but they want to give him the best chance to get better.

To raise money for Holland and to raise awareness about cycling safety, his friends and fellow athletes are competing in the Ironman 70.3 — representing a total distance of 113km — that started on December 2. Holland competed in the Laguna Phuket Triathlon in 2010 and represented South Africa in the 2007 World Triathlon Championships.

For his recovery, the Back on Your Bike (www.backonyourbike.com) campaign was launched in November by his family and friends as a link for donating.

The initial target is $150,000 (Dh550,942), which will cover medical expenses for the next few months. The ultimate target is $1.7 million, a number estimated by the Dana Foundation, a US-based philanthropy, as the lifetime expense of caring for a patient in Holland’s condition.

On December 4, Holland’s hospital report said he is improving. “He is semi-conscious but is obeying commands by opening and closing his left eye and his mouth. He is getting regular tube feeding without any problems. He is also undergoing active physiotherapy daily, mobilising to a chair, and he is able to stand up with a tilting bed. The sore on the back of his head is almost healed.”

“It is an unknown long road for Richard,” said Rothschild who is based in Perth, Australia. Since October 12, she has been by her son’s bedside at the Mediclinic City Hospital in Dubai for 10-12 hours daily.

“Richard has amazing courage and spirit,” she told Gulf News. “He is definitely going to try to make it. We want to give him the best possible opportunity for recovery and rehabilitation. At the same time, I am trying to keep our family as intact as I can from a support perspective. It is a tragic accident to a boy whose whole life is still ahead of him and for someone whose whole life is about being outdoors.”

“He is crazy about the outdoors. He is a responsible sportsman, giving safety — whether in training or gear — top priority,” she said.

Holland is covered by Axa Insurance whose spokesperson told Gulf News the company has “agreed to bear the cost of his repatriation to South Africa, regardless of the current medical cover”.

A police report on the accident was unavailable by press deadline.