Gary’s Nei-Wand gets him into Trouble
The ageing process of a Hollywood starlet is rarely gracious and can bring about the swift demise of a glittering career followed by abrupt anonymity. Gary Niewand has shown us that life out of the spotlight for once famous athletes can be just as challenging, although old Gazza decided to highlight the issue in complete balls-and-all fashion.
This week the former Australian cyclist Neiwand pleaded guilty to charges of ‘willful and obscene exposure’. Let it be said that nothing good can ever come of something that is both ‘willful’ and ‘obscene’ and in this case it was particularly perverted turn of events which involved Gary driving around behind a woman who was riding her bike, ‘pulling up’ next to her with his pants lurking somewhere down near the gas pedal and politely enquiring as to whether she’d like to “finish him off”. If this picture isn’t clear enough for you, know that Gary only had one hand on the wheel and it goes without saying he was driving an automatic.
This was the first of two similar incidents which involved the former Olympic silver medalist exposing himself to strangers, although unfortunately neither case reported the state of Gary’s testicles to confirm or deny any steroid use throughout his illustrious cycling career.
Without overlooking the seriousness of the offences, we can at least take comfort that Neiwand didn’t choose to pull this stunt using the form of transport that made him famous. With all the cogs, chain and spokes, this incident could have ended in a far more disastrous fashion for Neiwand than mere shame and humiliation on a national level.
We cannot say that the warning signs weren’t there. There is a strong correlation between men who commit crimes that are lewd in nature and those who choose to model their look on Ron Jeremy. Maybe Gary will complete the transformation and try to beat Jeremy at his own game and put out his own feature film, something along the lines of ‘Driving (behind) Miss Daisy.’ But despite the comical element to Neiwand’s brush with the law, it does reveal a portrait of a man dealing with some fast peddling inner demons.
When I was younger, the name Gary Neiwand was synonymous with cycling but despite him winning enough medals to fill a velodrome, that elusive Olympic gold was never draped around his neck. This reportedly took a large toll on Neiwand as he sunk into a deep alcohol-fuelled depression following his retirement and ever since he has regularly popped up in the media for all the wrong reasons. Gary’s is not an isolated case.
Controversy has a tendency to follow around current athletes around like a lost puppy. From Michael Vick’s dog fighting to Joel Monaghan’s dog feeding, we are constantly being reminded of the sheer stupidity of professional sportsmen. Vick and Monaghan’s are particularly interesting examples as they highlight the fact that whilst some athletes believe they are above the law, others believe they are out of the public eye and clearly both these presumptions are wide of the mark.
But following retirement, former athletes are often left dealing with more sinister problems as depression, anxiety and worthlessness replace the days of locker room camaraderie. This occurs for a variety of reasons that range from missing the limelight and adulation to dealing with large amounts of physical pain meaning many of those whose careers have peaked during their mid 20’s and who have hung up the boots (or equivalent) by their early 30’s are left with another 50 years or more of trying to get by on former glories.
One can only speculate what has caused Neiwand to behave in the way he did but, one thing is for certain, the man needs help. According to his lawyer he is currently seeking therapy in the form of weekly forensic care meetings. I’m sure the women of Melbourne are hoping these meetings have their desired effect so that Gary can begin focusing on his achievements and glory on the track as opposed to his morning glory in the back streets of Elwood.