Marco?s still on his bike . . . and loving it
By GREG WHITE
WAY back in 1991 Marco Brandli crashed his bike and the doctors told him he'd never ride again.
Roll the clock on 15 years and Marco's still proving the doctors wrong with his latest excursion to cycle in Masters Games events relieving the organisers of a hoard of medals.
"On the round trip to Alice Springs and the Gold Coast we covered 8270km," the sprightly septuagenarian said.
"Last year's trip was to Adelaide and we did a lot better this time."
When the Coffs Coast Advocate spoke to Marco last year following his southern sojourn he proudly displayed three bronze medals.
This week, he was happy to wear two bronze from Queensland and four gold from the 'capital' of the Red Centre.
"Pretty good for someone who wasn't supposed to ride again," he laughed.
Three gold medals came in the cross country, short course velodrome series and quaintly-named 'pig race', but it's his special gold 'Spirit of the Games' award that delivers most pleasure to the fun-loving adventurer.
"Everywhere my wife and I went the people were so friendly and we stopped to talk," Marco said.
"We met people with relatives at Urunga and Woolgoolga, went sight-seeing, took a helicopter ride...
"And at the games we all helped each other."
His funniest tale was his brush with living legend, Dawn Fraser.
"I went up to her and asked 'surely you remember me from the Coffs Harbour games'?" he laughed.
"I wonder why she looked at me so strangely."
Marco's event schedule provided lots of thrills, some scrapes and bruises and the odd collision with terra firma.
"In one race I picked up a flat tyre and had to get off and carry the bike," he said in mock annoyance.
"Otherwise, no medal if I don't do it."
But as one of five competitors in the 75-79 years division, he's still got a long way to catch the veteran of the games.
"There was one old fellow who was 86 years of age," Marco grinned, "and he was the only one in his group.
"He won all the medals.
"If the body holds up I'll still keep going till I get to his stage."
Body permitting, Marco is targeting the World Masters in Sydney during 2009 ? 'don't want to get too far ahead' - and a possible return trip to ride in Switzerland, his country of birth.
"But I have to take a couple of months off for that," Marco laughed, "to get around to see all the relatives."
Not bad for somebody once told his days on a bike were behind him.