Olympian apologises, says ‘spiral’ led to drink driving
OLYMPIAN Benny Pike has apologised and is seeking medical help after being charged with drink driving after a late night out in Maroochydore.
The 64-year-old allegedly recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.1801 - more than three times the legal limit - when taken in by police after stopping at a Marcoola servo for food last week.
Mr Pike, who has a history of six drink driving charges dating back to 1987, said he didn't have an alcohol problem and it had been eight-and-half-years since his last offence
"I've been doing all the right things, but then I got in a spiral of being without work, stress and depressed," he said.
The former champion, who represented Australia in boxing at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, said the catalyst to his latest drinking episode was working at the Palmer Coolum Resort.
The "right hook" was when he was sacked when it shut its doors in March.
"I am seeking medical advice, but I'm not in a good space and I haven't been for some time," he admitted.
"I'm doing the best I can, but if people understood how hard it was in the environment we were under (at the Palmer Coolum Resort).
"A lady who wrote a reference for me, who went through the same issues, said she was fortunate she had a partner. It was just me, on my own. (dealing with it).
He hadn't been idle since leaving the resort and had been "volunteering 20 to 30 hours a week".
He is also completing a disability carer's course.
But then his 83-year-old mum was taken to hospital and there were concerns it was serious, he said.
"My mum collapsed at home and she was rushed to hospital.
"She was refusing an operation and then I'd found out she was bleeding," Mr Pike said.
"I was really worried about her and then that night I got a text saying she was given the all clear. I was down in Maroochydore with some footy mates and I was in a terrific mood.
"I was relaxed and I took my eye of the ball."
He said he had been drinking wine and hadn't eaten when he got behind the wheel of the car and drove from Maroochydore to the Marcoola service station.
"I pulled over and parked my car and went to get food at the Seven-11 when a group of young people started yelling at me.
"They said I shouldn't be driving. I said I wasn't and I was getting a cab home, but they said they had rung the police."
The police took Mr Pike to the Maroochydore watch house where he blew into a breathalyser.
He then spent several hours in a holding cell waiting for results before being allowed to go home.
He had to surrender his licence and is yet to hear about a court date.
His solicitor has put him on an awareness driving program and he is seeking medical help, he said.
"The point is, I'm not well. It's really upsetting and I am doing the best I can.
"I am getting out of town at the end of the week."
He has also emailed the board of the sports' association committee he has been working with to apologise for the embarrassment.
"I told them I had been caught drink driving, it was a high reading and I was completely at fault.
"However, if I could paint a picture of the week that led up to ... and the redundancy and lack of work didn't help."
For help with alcohol visit http://www.drinkwise.org.au.
For help with stress visit http://www.beyondblue.org.au.