Being short in stature has not kept David Brinton from getting maximum exposure out of cycling.
Hunched over a racing bike throughout last week's Pan American Games, the 5-foot-9 Brinton did not cut the stereotypic figure of a sprinter--tall, large and laden with muscles.
But Brinton doesn't need size to stand out in cycling; speed has made the difference for the 20-year-old from North Hollywood.
In his best showing against international competition, Brinton won a silver and a gold medal in the Pan American Games in Indianapolis last week. He sprinted to a silver medal in the men's 4,000-meter individual pursuit Thursday and helped the U.S. team pursuit squad win a gold medal Saturday.
Brinton finished the individual pursuit in 4 minutes, 49.08 seconds, about two seconds behind gold-medal winner Gabriel Curuchet. The 24-year-old Argentine won in 4:47.27.
In placing second, Brinton had cut more than two seconds off his semifinal time. He defeated Eduardo Alonso of Cuba with a time of 4:51.19.
"I was disappointed that I couldn't pull off a gold medal in the individual pursuit," Brinton said via telephone from Indianapolis, 30 minutes before leaving for Vienna to compete in the World Cycling Championships.
He made the most of a second chance against the powerful Argentine cyclists in the team pursuit finals. The U.S. team won with a time of 4:26.18, more than a second ahead of Argentina, which finished in 4:27.38. Brinton and Leonard Harvey Nitz of Citrus Heights were the Californians on the gold-medal winning team.
Argentina had a record-setting time of 4:29.88 in the semifinals, breaking the track record of 4:33.67 that the Americans set while qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Brinton, who had four races in two days last week, didn't have much time to savor his victory before embarking on his third trip to Europe this year. Throughout a nine-month racing season, Brinton travels with the U.S. team, which he's represented for five years. He will be with the team in Vienna through Aug. 31.
If Brinton collected frequent-flier mileage credit, he'd force an airline into bankruptcy. Just this year, he's traveled with the U.S. team to Texas, Indianapolis, Italy, Belgium and Austria. He hopes to travel to Seoul, South Korea, next year for the 1988 Olympics.
"Going to the Olympics is something that takes years to develop," he said. "It's taken me five to 10 years to get to where I am."
Brinton failed to qualify for the 1984 Olympics as a member of the U.S. team that won nine medals, including four gold, in eight events. But he was a part of the team that broke a U.S. cycling record in the 4K team pursuit at the Goodwill Games in Moscow in 1986. Brinton finished sixth in the one-kilometer individual race in 1:06.330.
In addition, he has won an intermediate road and track championship, a gold and a bronze medal at the 1983 National Sports Festival and a bronze in the 1983 Pan American Games.
Brinton, who is also a stunt cyclist, rode in bicycle motocross events at age 12 and later performed on BMX trick teams. He toured shopping centers to promote motocross events before buying a 10-speed at 14 and converting to cycling.
His riding skills led to an on-camera stint in the movie "Pee Wee's Big Adventure." He also doubled for actor Kevin Bacon in the movie "Quicksilver."
After returning to Los Angeles next month, Brinton will train for a competition against a team of Soviet cyclists at the Olympic Velodrome at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Oct. 2-4.