24 September 2013
When 84-year-old Geoff Hawkins and 55-year-old Ken Pedlow line up at the Australian Masters Games in Geelong next month they will have more to play for than a gold medal.
Both men have overcome life-threatening illnesses in order line up in their respective sports – cycling and table tennis – leading the way for countless participants who are making the most of their own new lease on life.
Pedlow, from Mount Waverley in Victoria, will make his Australia Masters Games debut thanks to the most generous of acts by his brother.
Having been on dialysis for four years awaiting a kidney transplant, Pedlow received a breakthrough in 2005 when his brother selflessly donated his own kidney to rid the 55-year-old of the constraints of being hooked up to a machine.
Since then, he has vowed to make the most of his new found freedom and opportunity.
“After dialysis, I had a lot more spare time and I wanted to make the most of it, so I got into cycling and started swimming again,” Pedlow said.
“I had played table tennis at high school, so decided I’d join a club, and get a coach, and for the last four or so years I’ve been playing competitively.”
Hawkins, from Callala Bay in New South Wales, has survived three bouts of cancer and a number of nasty falls, none of which will keep the resilient 84-year-old off his bike.
Hawkins’ most spectacular fall may have been when he was knocked off his bike by a four-wheel-drive travelling at 100km/hour only to avoid any broken bones, but it was during a bike ride in Tasmania where he fell off his bike onto railway lines and broke his femur that would prove to be a life changer.
It was in treating this injury that doctors found that he had cancer of the spleen.
“I suppose it was a good thing that I fell off. Otherwise, it (the cancer) might’ve gone unnoticed,” said Hawkins.
A short lived period of recovery was overshadowed by a return of the cancer, this time in the middle of his stomach. After treatment and recovery, Hawkins was back on the bike again, and participating in a hill climb event where he found himself struggling for breath and experiencing some tightness in his chest.
“That was because there were four cancers growing in my chest, and one of them was squashing my windpipe,” he said of his third run in with cancer.
Proving that ‘life gets better with age’, Pedlow and Hawkins will to join up to 8,000 participants across 50 sports including athletics, basketball and golf through to drilldance and dragon boat in Geelong.
The Australian Masters Games, held from Saturday 5 to Saturday 12 October, is one of Australia’s largest multi sporting events. Entertainment and social activities including an opening and closing ceremony ensure it’s an event anyone 30 years and older should tick off their bucket list.
Mental as Anything and James Reyne will star at the opening ceremony whilst Pseudo Echo will headline the ‘Funky Town’ 80’s themed closing ceremony.
For further Australian Masters Games information and to register, visit www.AustralianMastersGames.com.
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