Albert Francis Grenda
In 1912 he defeated the cycling wizard Frank Kramer in a match race. Although Grenda came second in the world professional sprint championship that year, he teamed with Walter De Mara of Cleveland, Ohio, to take the world tandem crown, thus becoming, arguably, 'the first Australian to win a world's championship' in cycling. Big, strong and well proportioned, Grenda was over six feet (183 cm) in height and was dubbed 'The Tall Tasmanian'. A legend in an era when most cyclists earned only a few pounds a week, he drew large crowds and his versatility brought him a handsome living. In search of even better money, he resumed six-day racing; he and his compatriot Alfred Goullet were considered to be the greatest team on the American six-day circuit. At Newark Velodrome, with three different partners, in 1914 Grenda set world records for the one and two mile (3.2 km) tandem (1 minute 40 seconds and 3 minutes 35 seconds respectively) in 1914, and for the three-mile (4.8 km) event (5 minutes 19 seconds) in 1915. In her parents' home at Harrison, New Jersey, on 21 December that year he married Isabel Crawford. They settled in Tasmania in 1919, but returned to America in 1921.
Grenda subsequently made several brief visits to Australia, including one in 1925 when 55,000 spectators flocked to see him ride in the six-day contest in Sydney. In 'Curly' Grivell's opinion, he was a remarkable all-rounder who 'could win any event on the programme'—or, more appropriately—'all events on the programme'. Grenda ceased competitive cycling in 1926, bought an orange grove at Hollywood, California, in 1930 and took American citizenship. He retired from his business in 1955 and moved to Costa Mesa, Long Beach. Survived by his son and two daughters, he died on 30 May 1977 at Paradise, California, and was cremated.
His nephew Ron Grenda, who was also a versatile competitor with a style uncannily similar to his uncle's, won the Latrobe Wheel race (1971), gruelling six-day events (including one at Launceston) and national sprint titles. Ron's son, Michael, combined sprint power and endurance to win numerous Tasmanian and national titles, as well as gold medals in the 4000-metre team pursuit at the Commonwealth (1982) and Olympic (1984) games.
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