The Provincial Athletics Championships: An Event I'd Rather Not Remember

It was some sometime in April 1971 at the Provincial Athletics Championships competition at the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan.

The competition was coming to an end and as usual, it was time for the relay race, which is always the highlight of the championships. The GCI team comprised Eniola Sanu (1967) - the first leg, Tunde Bamgbelu (1968) - second leg, my good self - third leg and Yato Adeyemi, the anchor.

The race started very well with fantastic and beautiful baton exchanges from the first leg to the second leg and from the second leg to the third leg. As fate would have it, when it was time for the baton exchange between my good self and the anchor "katakata come burst" as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti would say. The baton appeared to have gone into overdrive and it simply refused to obey my command. What happened? The baton just dropped! Yeeeeeepa! What is this? Abomination! Unheard of. GCI drop the baton in a relay race?

The pain of the baton drop was so overwhelming and too much for me that I burst into tears immediately. The anchor quickly bent down to pick up the baton and strutted along in a sportsman like manner until he crossed the finishing line. No prizes for guessing right that we came last in the race.

That was one unhappy moment that I have been carrying with me all through life as a burden. However, looking on the bright side, the big lesson to learn here is that even in the best of times, with the best of preparation, if anything will go wrong, it will.

We nevertheless thank God.

culled from 1967 Set's Book - 'Fifty Years, Not Out'.

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