A Winner On and Off the Course

In one of the gutsiest efforts of the 2016 Games, an 80-year-old Victorian cyclist has won gold – a week after being cleared of cancer.

Alan Sandford was diagnosed with prostate cancer nine years ago. He received the final all clear last week and immediately jumped in his car to drive solo to Alice Springs.

And the effort has definitely paid off with Sandford winning his age division in the cycling criterium yesterday.

“If I knew these Games were this good I would have been up here before,” he said.

“It’s fantastic – all the people here are so friendly.

“It’s a long way from Victoria but I’ll be back in two years’ time.

“I’ve been cycling for 65 years and been to several other Masters events.

“Cycling keeps me young and healthy. I love it.

“I still train with the young 40 to 50 years old fellas and it’s great.

“There are several rivals from my early days still around and I bump into them all over the place.”

Two of those rivals are 79-year-old Neil Wray and Geoff Smith, 74. Both are also competing at this year’s Alice Springs Masters Games.

Wray is a five-time national track winner, while Smith competed in the tandem bike event at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

There has been a friendly rivalry between the three since Sandford began competitive cycling 65 years ago.

Among Sandford’s achievements are representing Queensland in the 1956 Olympic Trials and winning the Caulfield Cup on Wheels. He has also won numerous titles as a veteran/master cyclist plus silver medals at the Track Cycling World Master Championships in Sydney in 2007.

There is no rest for Sandford after yesterday’s event. He has the road race and street sprint tomorrow and Thursday plus a couple of events on the track on Friday.