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Lost luggage leads to crushed dreams for Alberta senior

EDMONTON – Five months after a disastrous trip to Torino, Italy, where he was supposed to compete in the World Masters Games, 76-year-old John Daly is still upset with Air Canada.

“I’m asking for a total refund of every penny that trip cost me, and an equal amount in compensation for the kick in the teeth that I got from them,” he said.

After months of hard training for a bike race that was supposed to be his last, the Sherwood Park senior arrived in Torino with high hopes last August. His goal was to bring home a World Masters gold medal.

He had competed in 2005 when Edmonton hosted the event, and tried again in 2009 in Australia. Having had more time than before to prepare for the 2013 event, he was feeling good about his chances in Italy.

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“I went to win,” he said.

There was just one little bump in the road.

“I got to Torino with no bike, no suitcase.”

Daly admits he wasn’t too worried, at first, since he had a couple days to spare before the time trials. It wasn’t until several phone calls to Air Canada, and someone else’s bike being delivered to his hotel that his frustration began to grow.

His bike eventually did arrive, four days after he did. But by then, the time trials – the event he was looking forward to most – had already passed.

“Never thought anything like this would happen,” he said. “They made a total disaster over what should have been, whether I won or not, a very enjoyable trip.”

To make things worse, a scheduling mix-up forced him to miss the road race as well. It was the final blow in what was a defeating experience for Daly.

“I can’t find words…to describe the hurt. After all that training, all that expense, all that long, tiring trip…for nothing.”

He explains that competing in the 2013 World Masters Games had meant everything to him.

“To me, it was a world championship. It was a Stanley Cup, the Grey Cup, the whole lot – Tour de France, all rolled into one.”

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“It’s unlikely that I can think about the next games which are in 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. I’m not sure that I can see myself on those roads training hard, day after day after day, when I’m 79 years old…Italy was it, that’s why it hurts all the more.”

The 76-year-old wrote a letter to Air Canada after his return, and is upset that he never heard back. He feels the nearly $5,000 he spent on the trip, including his race expenses, should be returned to him.

“I paid plenty for a service that I didn’t get and they didn’t even have manners enough to reply to an old man’s letter,” he said. “It’s time for big business to wake up and have a little respect for their customers.”

The company sent the following statement to Global News on Friday:

“Air Canada understands how disappointed Mr. Daly would have been when his bike and luggage were delayed arriving in Italy and regrets that he was unable to participate in the event with his own equipment as he had planned to. We are investigating why he has not received a reply to his claim and apologize for not responding in a timely manner, as should have been the case. We will be in contact directly with Mr. Daly to follow up on this matter.”

Lufthansa Airlines looked after the last two legs of Daly’s trip and officials are still trying to determine why his bike and baggage were delayed. No word yet on compensation.

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With files from Julie Matthews, Global News

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