2 min

Personal Best

Credit: Trevor McNeill

Watching long-legged Allan Cline leap over hurdles, pirouette to the finish line and twirl, the gold-medal winner in victory was indeed one of the highlights of the track and field events at the Sydney Gay Games.

That Cline had never competed in the 110-metre hurdles event, or ever competed in a sport competition the magnitude of the Gay Games, was a huge accomplishment in itself. Add his recent cancer diagnosis to the equation and you have an athlete whose quest for personal best far outweighs the challenges set before him.

Cline originally started planning two years ago to head to the Games and compete in discus and shot put events. Local coach Marc Samson urged Cline to come up with a training goal and the Gay Games fit his criteria. After watching fellow track members sprint training, Cline turned his energy to running events with the long-term goal of competing in the hurdles.

He hasn’t participated in sports since high school. A former high jumper, Cline quit the track and PE classes when the fear of his sexuality being discovered kept him out of the school showers. Thirty years later he is back on the track and returning home to Vancouver proudly wearing his four Gay Games medals as a victorious queer.

“I’m truly amazed,” he says. “I’ve worked hard. Two years ago [Vancouver hurdler] Marc Samson told me I would medal and I wanted to believe him. I’m overwhelmed.”

A mere six weeks ago, Cline was diagnosed with cancer in the lymph system. Treatment for the cancer began immediately but at a great physical and emotional cost. He thought his dream of going to Australia and his two years of training were over, but doctors encouraged him to stick to his plans.

Despite battling the physical challenge of not feeling well each day in Sydney, Cline says it was his naturally positive attitude that kept him going.

“I’m not afraid to die,” he says. “It makes me want to live life to the fullest. I’m not going to feel sorry for myself and I don’t want anyone’s pity. I’m not going to let this be an obstacle, I see it more as a challenge. You can’t pick and choose these things.”

Cline won the silver medal for the 110-metre hurdles in the men’s 40-44 age category. He also won a silver in the 4×100 relay, a bronze in the 400-m hurdle and in the 4×200-m relay.

“I’m encouraged about the attitudes and about participation and doing one’s personal best. But I’m competitive and the balance for me is about participation and competing.”

Cline says he looks forward to attending the Gay Games in Montreal in 2006.