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1. 25 Jan. 2003. Saturday Nation. Pioneer Running Hero Back Home

2. 25 Jan. 2003. East African Standard. Antao calls for trust fund.

3. 31Jan to 06 Feb 2003. Coast Week. Special Report.

4. 01 Feb 2003. East African Standard. Antao put Kenya on world map.

5. 01 Feb 2003. East African Standard (Nairobi). Winning Two Gold in Perth Most Memorable

6. 26 Nov. 2003. Herald. The Gazelle comes home for a short graze

7. 14 March. 2004. East African Standard. Antao foresees Kenya regaining sports glory

8. 19 Mar to 25 Mar 2004. Coast Week. Seraphino Antao back on a visit to friends in Mombasa

9.28 Jan. 2006. The Age (Australia). In the Kenyan vanguard. By Len Johnson

Saturday, January 25, 2003
The Nation (Nairobi)
Double gold for Kenya in 1962: Mombasa-born Seraphino Antao talks at the Safari Park Hotel yesterday ahead of today's honouring of Kenya's athletics heroes from all ages.
Seraphino Antao, Kenya's first medallist at theCommonwealth in Australia in 1952 during the interview yesterday. Pic by a Correspondent
Pioneer Running Hero Back Home
By Peter Njenga, Nairobi

Seraphino Antao is back home. He is the man whose name in Kenya's athletics history was once as big as that of Olympic hero, Kipchoge Keino.

But after Antao left Kenya in 1963 to return only once in 1968, he has been away from the land of his birth for 36 years. But to a huge Kenya populace his name is engraved in nostalgic history.
Modern Kenyan generation would be shocked to hear that one of their own once ruled in the sprint races, these days only associated with the likes of Dwain Chambers of England, Donovan Bailey of Canada, scores of Nigerians and Jamaicans.

In 1962, Antao, born and brought up at Makadara Estate, Mombasa, was the supreme sprinter in the whole of the Commonwealth. At the the then Empire Games in Perth, Australia, Antao won the 110 yards and 220 yards golden double. He remains the only Kenyan to have ever won gold in the short sprints at any world level.

Antao, at his own expense, arrived in the country yesterday from his current home in London, England, to attend Athletics Kenya's 50th anniversary celebrations today.

The 66-year-old, passionately said: "We (Kenyans) might be out there for a long time but in our hearts, this remains home"

"Gazelle" as he was fondly known as a youth in Mombasa, retired from his London job over 12 years ago after working as an accounts assistant with the giant electronic firm, Thorn Emi. He looks surprisingly young and fit for his age while his Kiswahili is distinctively Coastal.

"Mimi mtu wa Mombasa bwana (I am from Mombasa)," he said animatedly. He trains three times a week to keep fit but generally stays at home or visits friends of East African origin to talk about Kenya, people and sports.

"I am so shocked that I don't know where I am," he said at the suburb Safari Park Hotel where he is booked as a VIP guest by Athletics Kenya. "Nairobi is very big and crowded. I am really enjoying my stay, especially the sunshine.

"I can't wait to meet my friends like Nyantika Maiyoro, Kanuti Sum and Kipchoge. I also want to return to Mombasa before going back to the UK next Friday."

Antao learnt of the celebrations through the Nation website after being alerted by a friend that AK announced it will honour pioneer athletes and all others who won medals at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and world championships.

He got in touch with the Kenyan association for confirmation before he booked his ticket on Tuesday and arrived yesterday aboard a Kenya Airways flight from London.

Saturday, January 25, 2003
Antao calls for trust fund
By Gilbert Wandera

Seraphino Antao, the first Kenyan to win a medal for the country has called for the establishment of a trust fund to support retired athletes.

The 66- year-old Antao arrived in the country yesterday morning from his London base after being away for 40 years. He will be honoured in today's 50th anniversary celebrations of Athletics Kenya.

Antao regretted that retired athletes have been left to suffer saying only the establishment of a trust will reverse the trend.

He said he was quite shocked by the news of the illness of another veteran athlete, Naftali Temu, who is admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

"The government should set up a fund to assist retired athletes just like the British Boxing Association has done," he said.

Going down memory lane, Antao said the sport has changed tremendously from the days in terms of practise and competition.

Antao first competed in the commonwealth games in 1958 in what he says was a learning experience for him. Two years later he reached the semi-finals in the Olympic games.

His moment of glory came in 1962 when he won two gold medals in the 100m and 200m events in the Commonwealth Games held in Australia.

Meanwhile, the ceremony to honour the 460 athletes who have won medals at the Commonwealth, Olympic and IAAF organised meetings at Riadha House will start at 9a.m.

Sports Minister, Najib Balala, will be the chief guest.

Copyright © 2003 . The Standard Ltd

ISSUE NO. 2605
January 31 - February 06, 2003
ISSN NO: 1564 - 0272M
Special Report

Coastweek - - THE ACHILLES Athletic Club formed in Mombasa is seen in a 1956 photograph with the many trophies that they won. They are (back row, tanding, from left) Albert Castanha, Pascoal Antao, Laura Ramos, Ray Batchelor (coach), Phila Fernandes, Juanita Noronha, Alfred Vianna, Seraphino Antao. (Front row, from left) Joe Faria, Alcino Rodrigues, Jack Fernandes, Bruno D'Souza.




Coastweek - - A VERY warm welcome was given to Seraphino Antao, Kenya's super sprinter in the sixties, on his return from the UK after an absence of 38 years.

Friends and strangers alike have gone up, even if just to say 'jambo' to this man who in 1962 won Kenya it's very first gold medal in athletics, placing our then young country on the world map.

Antao had come back to his country of birth to attend the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association which were held over the weekend in Nairobi.

The Association had decided to mark the event by honouring all it's past athletes at a ceremony held at Riadha House and graced by the Minister for Sports Hon. Najib Balala.

Each athlete was given a T-shirt denoting the decade when he reigned supreme and a parade was held followed by an award ceremony where they were all given certificates honouring their contribution to athletics in Kenya.
Of course Antao was the very first to be honoured for his gold medals earned in the 100 yard and 220 yard sprint during the1962 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Coastweek - - OLYMPIC GOLD medallist Kipchoge Keino and Common wealth Games gold medallist Seraphino Antao are seen together in Nairobi early this week following celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association - one of the most consistently successful sporting organisations in the history of world sports.

Since tasting that very first gold, Kenya has never looked back, producing world class runners like Kipchoge Keino, Naftali Temu, Rono, Paul Tergat, Sammy Kipketer and so many more (the list is endless) in both sprints and long distance events.

Even our women have also not lagged behind clocking some unbeatable times in athletics, proving to the world year in-year out, that Kenyan athletes are a class of their own.

Meeting up with Seraphino Antao was a dream come true for I had heard about his exploits on the track at a young age from my mother who was a fan of his.

Of course the fact that he was a regular customer at our shop on Haile Selassie Avenue (then Station Road) was an added advantage.

Born on 30th October 1937, the first child of Diogo Manuel and Anna Maria, Antao has four brothers and two sisters (living all over the world).

He was brought up in Ganjoni and Makupa, moving home many times since his father worked for the Railways and occupied the Railways' Quarters.


In his youth Seraphino was a very athletic person and participated in all sporting activities at his Goan High School (now St. Valentine's School) but was more inclined towards football.

Taking part in Coast competitions, he realised that he was quite a good short distance runner, but having nobody to race against, could not quite judge his abilities to their limits.

His first break came in 1956 when he was eligible to participate in a national competition held in Nairobi.

Here his true colours came to light and Antao decided to pursue sprint events with more gusto.

He managed to break the Kenya National records for 100 and 220 yards in 1957 and knew that he was destined for more glory.

Finally selected for the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff in Wales, the experience was more of learning than anything else, as his performance there was nothing much to write home about.

By now, Seraphino was holding a job as a supervisor with the Landing and Shipping Company who were agents for the East African Railways.
Training was regularly held at the East African Railways Sports Club and the Mombasa Municipal Stadium.

Coastweek - - Seraphino Antao holds the memento given to him by the Nairobi Institute honouring his achievements.

Antao's attempt at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome showed a marked improvement on his past attempt as he only just missed the semi finals.

He was however invited to London to compete against the United States of America where he also fared quite well.

Back in Mombasa, training was now more in earnest as he got himself a professional coach Ray Batchelor.

They trained together two to three hours a day, every day of the week including Sundays and everything got more technical and detailed.

They would at times train at the Mombasa Municipal Stadium and sometimes on the beach where running on the soft sand further enhanced Seraphino's stamina and running power.


The efforts paid off and in the 1962 Commonwealth Games held in Australia, Seraphino competing against the likes of Harry Jerome clocked in at 9.5 seconds for the 100 yards and 21.1 seconds in the 220 yards taking away the gold medal for both events.

He also participated in the 4 x 440 yards relay with the Kenyan team who finished fifth in the final.

A hero's welcome awaited him back home, forever etching his name out in Kenyan athletic history.

In 1963 he was invited to the Australian Games where he made a mark for himself and all Kenyans.

The next hurdle was the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo where he was the flagbearer for the Kenyan team.

Unfortunately, he fell ill just before his event and had to retire.

That is when, handing over the flag to his compatriot Kipchoge Keino who was ruling the world at that time, Antao decided that the time was ripe for his retirement from competitive running having given eight years of his life to it.

Shortly after the Tokyo Olympics, Seraphino decided to immigrate to the U.K.

Initially he ran a boutique in London for a few years, before he joined Thorn EMI as an Accounts Assistant.

He worked for this international firm for about 30 years, before retiring ten years ago.

For many years he has been involved with training children at the Crystal Palace and also participated in the European circuits winning many medals before he hung up his boots.

However, he is still very fit training in his gym at home at least three days a week.

His fondest memories of Mombasa are the hot sun and madafus and he was rueful that he would not be able to visit Mombasa this time as time would not have it, but would love to come back especially if his visit coincided with a major athletic event.


He still speaks Kiswahili very fluently, despite having been away for almost 40 years.

This he attributes to the fact that once in a while he gets together with his Kenyan friends in the U.K. and they make sure they converse in Kiswahili keeping up their fond memories of Kenya.

There have been so many friends who have been in touch with him on his visit that as he puts it "the phone just did not stop ringing as soon as I arrived and even a little bit of rest was out of the question".

The Goan Institute in Nairobi also honoured him with a dinner party and a memento for his achievements.

He has also been featured on the international athletics website featuring past runners and their biographies

Seraphino Antao leaves Kenya today (Friday) to go back to the U.K. but a part of him will always remain here with us, in our minds, hearts and our glorious history.

Saturday, February 01, 2003
Antao put Kenya on world map
By Omulo Okoth


Talking about events that took place between 1956 and 1964 with great detail is only possible with a subject so close to one's heart.

Seraphino Antao recalls every detail of what happened between those years as if they took place only the other day.

Tall and fit, Antao cuts a typical athletic figure, which belies his advanced age. He is 66 years old. He is nostalgic about the days athletes trained naturally and won medals for their nations. Their success, he recalls, was not influenced by financial considerations.

For starters, Antao was the first Kenyan to win a medal for the country. He won double gold - 100 and 200 yards - at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia.

Although he is a naturalised British, he joined pioneer Kenyan athletes during the Athletics Kenya Gala Night last weekend where medalists were garlanded and honoured.

After living in London since 1965, Antao could hardly remember Nairobi streets or buildings.

"How things have changed! The only place I recognise well is the Railway Station where we used to disembark from Mombasa," he said.

"I also recognised Government Road (now Moi Avenue) but buildings are so tall I got lost in the middle," he said.

Antao left Kenya in 1965, one year after retiring from athletics. He returned briefly in 1968, but only for two months.

He was back in London where he worked for Thorn EMI as an accounts assistant.
Born in Mombasa 66 years ago to Goan parents, Antao attended local schools before joining then Goan Secondary School (now Mombasa High School). After school, he worked for Landing and Shipping Company, which were agents for East African Railways and Habours Corporation.

That was when he launched his athletics career. He ran for his company during the regional athletics championships and finished fourth. He never looked back. He lost only once to a Ugandan called Amukun between 1957 and 1964.

His first trip overseas was in 1958. He was in the Kenyan team to Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales. He reached the second round of 100 yards, "a learning experience that was."

Two years later, he reached the semi-finals of the 100 yards and quarter-finals of the 200 yards at the Rome Olympic Games.

The moment of glory came in 1962 when Antao won double gold in Perth. He tried a 4x440 yards relay but they finished fifth. In the relay team were Wilson Kiprugut, Kimaru Songok, Antao and Peter Francis.

When Kenya became an independent nation in 1963, Antao became the first flag bearer when the team went to the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

At the Gala Night, Antao reunited with Nyantika Maiyoro, Bartonjo Rotich, Kanuti Sum, Kiptalam Keter and Mabodhia Tesot, the only surviving members of the Kenyan athletics team of the 1950s.

Antao recalls some of his memorable races against great athletes like Peter Radford (British world record holder), Bobby Hayes (US world record holder), Henry Carr (also world record holder from USA) and Harry Jerome, the Canadian he beat in Perth.
He won a double at the British Championships in 1962.

He won the prestigious Helms Athletics Foundation award the following year, which was awarded to six greatest athletes of the six continents by the American Foundation.

He received the award from the Colonial Governor, Malcolm McDonald, at Government House, now State House.

He also won a double in the Czechoslovakia Championships in Prague and virtually dominated the sprints in what was then called World Class meets, in Zurich, Berlin and London, the equivalent of present day's Grand Prix meetings.

Other glorious moments include joining top athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations for a match against USA in London's White City stadium immediately after the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

The Commonwealth team, made up of runners from Britain, Bahamas, West Indies and included Antao tied with the USA team in the 4x100 yards in world record time of 40 seconds.

Saturday, February 01, 2003
Winning Two Gold in Perth Most Memorable

Sixty-six-year-old Seraphino Antao was the first Kenyan to win a gold medal when he grabbed a double in 100 and 220 yards at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia. He spoke to Gilbert Wandera.

Question: When did you start your athletics career and where?
Answer: I started my athletics career in 1956 while an employee of the defunct Landing and Shipping, then agents for East African Railways and Harbours Corporation in Mombasa. The company encouraged us to take part in various sporting events and I chose athletics after trying out football.

The same year, I took part in open events featuring sprinters from Kenya and Uganda. Some of my competitors had qualified for the Commonwealth Games of 1958 which were held in Cardiff, Wales. I finished fourth in the 100 yards race despite a strong field. Ali Yussuf who won the race held the Kenyan record then with a personal best of 10sec.

A few weeks later I was again placed fourth in the Kenyan championships and this made athletics officials to take note of my performance.
From 1957 I won everything in the 100 yards and 200 yards events, setting new Kenyan and East African records. I was beaten only once by a Ugandan athlete during my competing period.

Q: Can you expound more on your racing career?
A: I took part in the British championships every year and won a double in 1962 earning me a place in the Hall of Fame rota. I also participated in several races in the Bahamas and the West Indies.

I tried my hand on the World class meetings which are the equivalent of today's Grand Prix meetings that took me to Zurich, Berlin and Sweden. I won the 1963 meet in Zurich clocking 10.5sec. It was a very tense race featuring top European athletes. Unlike today's Grand Prix there was no monetary rewards for us during the world meets.

Q: A little background on your personal life?
A: I was born in Mombasa and went to Goan High School. I am single by choice.

Q: What was the most memorable race of your career?
A: Winning two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games of 1962 in Perth was the most memorable in my career. Joy and pride engulfed my whole body when I hit the tape ahead of everybody else in the 100 yards event with a time of 9.5secs. My joy was doubled when I bagged the 220 yards gold with a time of 21.1 sec in heavy and windy conditions which slowed me. I had managed 20.9 secs in the semi-finals.

The reception when I came back home was tremendous though I did not receive any reward from the government.

Q: When did you retire and why?
A: I stopped running after the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo where I did not perform well after falling ill on the eve of my competition. I also became too busy to concentrate on my athletics considering that I had a career to pursue. After eight years as a sprinter, it was not easy to keep up the tempo.

Q: When did you leave the country?
A: I left Kenya at the end of 1964 because I was already used to life in Europe. I had competed in several events there during my career.

Q: What do you do in London?
A: I worked as an accounts assistant for Thorn EMI electronics until I retired. I also coached several athletics clubs.

Q: Why did it take you so long to come back?
A: I always wanted to come back but I kept putting it off. I always said I would go tomorrow until 40 years were over. Most of my friends had also left the country and so this kept me away.

Q: How did it feel coming back to Kenya after 38 years?
A: It was so different when I left. So many things had changed. Even the hotel I stayed in had not been built by then. There was no stadium constructed then. I was, however, able to view some landmark buildings like the New Stanley Hotel and Cameo Cinema which reminded me of Nairobi then.

Q: How was athletics then compared to the state of athletics now?
A: Athletics has become more technical compared to our days. Now you have a whole team to assist you ranging from the manager, doctors and trainers. We were on our own then. The new trend has helped to improve performance. There are also huge financial rewards now which we did not enjoy.

Q: If you were born in this era, what would you do differently to help improve your performance?
A: I would probably do a lot of planning regarding my races.

Q: Why has Kenya not performed well in sprints and field events compared to their performance in the middle and long-distance races?
A: Sprint is a technical event. The training is different and more demanding than in the middle and long distance events. Kenyan athletes lack adequate technical training.

Q: What is your comment regarding the state of retired athletes? What can be done to assist them live more dignified lives?
A: Retired athletes have been ignored and something needs to be done about their state. It was sad to receive news that my contemporary Naftali Temu is ailing in hospital.

My solution to this situation is for the formation of a trust fund to help retired athletes. The fund should be set up by active athletes giving up a percentage of their earnings. I personally kick off the project by donating my Sh30,000 which I was entitled to as my award from Athletics Kenya (AK) during last weekend's 50th anniversary celebrations.

Q: Comment on the recently held Athletics Kenya 50th anniversary celebrations. Did it come too late?
A: It was a brilliant idea which came at the right time. No other country in the world has ever brought its heroes together the way Athletics Kenya (AK) did. It is a great reminder that we have not been forgotten. It also provided a great opportunity for old and current athletes to meet and share their experiences.

Q: Any hope of coming back to settle in Kenya?
A: I am not sure but I hope it will come to be.

Wednesday, November 26, 2004
The Gazelle comes home for a short graze
By Frederick Noronha

Tourists and locals alike in Calangute*s Naikavaddo locality might not guess the identity of this senior citizen and lanky guest holidaying there. But four decades ago, Seraphino Antao was making news across the globe.

Jomo Kenyatta sent him a telegraph saying, *Kenya shall always be proud of you.* And the runner of the greatest furlong ever had won two gold medals at the Commonwealth games.

The fastest Goan in the world, and the man who won a double-gold for Kenya in the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 1962, is now 66 years old and back on a quiet private visit to Goa, returning from London after over two decades.

Says he with pride looking back on his years in international sport: *You could say I started Kenya*s gold rush, in a way.*

In 1962, Antao, was the supreme sprinter in the whole of the Commonwealth. At the then Empire Games in Perth, Australia, Antao won the 110-yards and 220-yards golden double.

He remains the athlete to represent Kenya who ever won gold in the short sprints at any world level.

Now a fit sexagenarian, Antao recalls his Chandor links with pride.

*The Antaos (from Chandor) were quite sports minded. Germano Antao was a big name in sports, and my cousin Effie Antao played football for Kenya. Pascoal Antao played for Salgaocars years back, and his son Trevor is also a good footballer,* he said in an interview.

His sister, Iggy (Ignaciana) Antao, was also a good sprinter, while his brother Rosario was a long-jumper.

Expat Goans may have represented the world in various sporting events, but Antao is probably the only one to do so well in athletics.

*In those days, it was all amateur sports. Not like today. I worked hard. Twice or thrice a day, besides having to go to work. Mombasa was very hot, like here. Our evening sessions were very hard ones,* says he.

Seraphino Antao studied at what was then called the Goan High School at Mombasa (now St Valentine*s School), and suddenly rose to making his mark as a sprinter.

*1962 was a very good year. I lost only one race in the entire year,* says he, recalling his career as a sprinter between 1958-1964.

Today, his memories are filed away in his *massive* scrap-book, and all his winnings are kept away in boxes. *I haven*t seen them for 30 years,* he says, matter-of-factly.

Recently, when he returned to Kenya for an event commemorating the achievements of athletics there, he was given a hero*s welcome. The way people remembered him and the press there wrote about him brought *tears to my eyes, almost* he said.

The *Gazelle*, as he was called in Africa, still speaks Kiswahili very fluently. He*d like to remember himself, as he was once described, as the most relaxed of sprinters in the world.

He sees the the selection of Delhi for the Commonwealth Games in 2010 as an opportunity to promote promising athletes.

*India has 50% of the population of the Commonwealth, and should get its act together in athletics. Look at what even (tiny) Kenya is doing,* says he.

His suggestion: Use the next seven years to source out talented kids from colleges or schools, and build them into world-class performers.

Sunday, March 14, 2004
Antao foresees Kenya regaining sports glory
By Omulo Okoth

He electrified the local sprinting scene four decades ago. Yet, a cursory look at him today makes one feel he still can take on the current athletes on an equal footing.
Seraphino Antao, now aged 67, was the first Kenyan to win a sprint gold medal at a major global event, when he grabbed a double in 100 and 220 yards at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia.

Only the relay teams of 1968 and 1972 Olympics in Mexico came closer to emulating his sprint burst with a silver and gold medals respectively in 4x400m.

"I don’t understand what has happened since then. We even had very good 400m and 400m hurdles sprinters but I just can’t explain what might have taken place," said Antao this week in Nairobi.

Seraphino Antao crossing the line first in 100 yards during the Kenya inter-provincial athletics championships in Kisumu 41 years ago

Visiting the country for the second time in as many years after a 40-year absence (he changed citizenship to become British and lives in London), Antao is optimistic that Kenya will reclaim its rightful place in global sports at the Athens Olympics.

"I can see Paul Tergat becoming the first Kenyan to win an Olympics marathon gold medal," Antao said confidently.

"I have keenly followed his performance and can say he will win the race. He has the poise and the ability to deal with any diverse situation. He can handle his world-class opponents well," said Antao.

"Besides (Ethiopia’s) Haile Gebrselassie, I think Tergat is the other world class athlete capable of winning an Olympics gold. I place him so high up," Antao, residing in a relative’s home in the up-market Runda neighbourhood, said.

"The women’s marathon team is equally strong, with (Catherine) Ndereba and (Margaret) Okayo in the team. As a whole, I think Kenya will bring home not less than three gold medals," said Antao.

"Much should, however, depend on how well they prepare for the Games. The marathon team should run one race only before the Olympics," said Antao.

"Kenyans should, however, not forget that Europeans are training professionally for the Games. Kenyans, Ethiopians and Moroccans must know that they have a fight in their hands to handle," said Antao.He recalled regrettably that Kenyans did not do so well in Sydney four years ago, nor did they do any better in Atlanta in 1996, but he thinks Athens should provide the opportunity to reclaim their place on the global stage.

Antao said Athletics Kenya has the discretion to put in place a selection criterion that suits them, and which can result in the best team, but he appeared to favour 1-2-3 across the finish line.

"Even in Britain, there was an attempt to change to 1-2 across the finish and an open option for a third one, but even the legendary Sebastian Coe declined, insisting on 1-2-3 across the finish," he said.

Antao does not like the idea of athletes changing their passports for the sake of money.

"I know there are financial considerations to take into account. There is the issue of livelihood. I would also wish to get $1m, but then I think national pride should supersede all that," he said.

"I see Nigerians changing to Portuguese and Spanish, Kenyans becoming Finns, Danes, French and now Arabs. But authorities must step in and stem the tide before it goes beyond acceptable limits," he said.

He recalled the case of Howard Payne, who won hammer gold medal for Rhodesia in 1958 Commonwealth Games. He became British the same year and he was barred from representing England in 1960 Olympics in Rome. He had to wait until 1962 Commonwealth Games where he won gold for Britain.

"The eligibility period used to be four years. But with three years, more athletes will defect. I think more stringent measures should be set to deter unnecessary defections," he said.

"Those defections may be good for individuals but I doubt if it is good for the image of the sport. What if Kenya brings in 22 Brazilians and enlists them to play for Harambee Stars? They will win many African Cup of Nations titles, but what will it mean for Kenya?" he posed.

Antao is bitter that sportsmen and women abuse drugs to excel, recalling that during their days, it was natural talent and hard training that mattered.

After living in Britain since 1965, Antao returned "home" last year at the invitation of Athletics Kenya, who organised a Gala Night for all past medalists in Olympics and Commonwealth Games, World Championships and World Cross Country Championships.

Given the tight schedule during his last visit, he was unable to reach Mombasa, where he was born. He went to Mombasa this week to meet his old friends, most of whom are long dead.

Born in Mombasa 67 years ago to Goan parents, Antao attended local schools before joining the then Goan Secondary School (now Mombasa High School).

He launched his athletics career while working as a clerk in Landing and Shipping Company, which were agents for East African Railways and Harbours Corporation.

After an excellent career on the local scene, Antao was selected for the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales, which was his international debut. He reached the second round of 100 yards.

Two years later, he reached the semi-finals of 100 yards and quarter finals of the 200 yards in Rome Olympics.

The moment of glory came in 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth where he won double gold. He attempted 4x400 yards relay but finished fifth. Other members of the relay team were Wilson Kiprugut arap Chuma, Kimaru Songok and Peter Francis.

When Kenya attained independence from Britain in 1963, Antao became the first flag bearer when the team went to the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

Antao recalls his glorious moments when he raced against great athletes like Peter Radford (then British world record holder), Bobby Hayes (US world record holder), Henry Carr (also world record holder from US) and Harry Jerome, the Canadian he beat in Perth.

Antao stopped running after the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo where he did not perform well after falling ill on the eve of his race.

"I also became busy to concentrate on athletics, considering I also had a career to pursue," he said.

Antao calls for athletes and officials to work together as a team for the benefit of the country. "They should be open with one another and state how best to bring back the glory," he said.

ISSUE NO. 2712
March 19 - 25, 2004
Seraphino Antao back on a visit to friends in Mombasa
Warm welcome from coast goans
Coastweek - - FAMILIAR FACE
- Back visiting friends in Mombasa has been world famous former Kenya sprinter Seraphino Antao (left) seen being warmly welcomed home by hockey patron and ex-Kenyan hockey international Franklyn Pereira.


Coastweek - - Willy Lobo (left) seen with Jose Menezes,
Seraphino Antao, Michael Fernandes and Charlie D'Souza.
Coastweek - - Bernard D'Souza (left) seen with Seraphino Antao,
Mombasa Goan COmmunity chairman Agapito Pereira and Teddy Gomes.
Saturday 28 January 2006
In the Kenyan vanguard
Seraphino Antao, whose gold medals in the sprints in Perth 1962 preceded the gold rush won by Kenya's dynasty of distance runners.
Photo: Nick Lockett
Kenya's first Commonwealth Games gold medals were won by a sprinter. Len Johnson tracked him down.

WHEN you think of Kenya and athletics, you automatically think of distance runners. Lots of distance runners, in fact, whose world domination is contested only by east African neighbour Ethiopia and exceptional non-Africans such as Craig Mottram.

Kenya's first Commonwealth Games gold medals were won by a sprinter. Seraphino Antao, a tall, lithe athlete from the Goan community in Kenya's major port city of Mombasa, surprised the Commonwealth's best to win the 100 yards and 220 yards in Perth in 1962.

Kenya had not long participated in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, as the Games were then titled. Its team in Perth contained an athlete who would go on to establish the first dynasty of distance runners — Kip Keino finished 11th in the three miles and was run out in his heat of the one mile.

Keino would win both events at the Games in Kingston, Jamaica, four years later, yet it was Antao who, as he puts it, "started the Kenyan gold rush".

These days, Antao lives in Lewisham, in London's south-east. As an athlete, he spent a lot of time in England. As well as his double Commonwealth victory, he was also the English Amateur Athletic Association champion at both sprints that year. He had wins in Zurich and Berlin, meetings that are now mainstays of the European circuit. He was ranked third in the 100 and second in the 200 in the world by Track & Field News.

No outsider when he arrived in Perth, Antao won like a favourite. He ran 9.5 seconds in the 100 yards to finish a yard clear of Tom Robinson of the Bahamas and Australia's Mike Cleary. In the 220, he had four yards to spare over David Jones of England.

Antao remembers that the Kenyans competed at a warm-up meeting in Bunbury, south of Perth. Apart from a synthetic track replacing the cinders, Perry Lakes Stadium, the Games venue, is little changed now. It is under threat from a housing development. Strangely, this is not news, even though Antao has never been back.

"My brother lives in Perth," says Antao. "He sends me every news item about Perry Lakes."

Antao was born in Mombasa in October 1937. The family lived in several towns, as his father worked for the railways.

At high school, he played soccer mainly. Once he took up athletics, he progressed quickly, winning a national meeting in Nairobi.

"I started in 1956 and I came up very quickly," he recalls. Within a few months, he had equalled the Kenyan record for 100 yards — a modest 10 seconds. He then improved it to 9.7. His first international experience was at the 1958 Empire Games in Cardiff.

It was just that, he says, experience, but Antao did better at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He ran against the top Americans in the relay at the USA v Commonwealth meeting in London. At home, Antao acquired a coach and began training more seriously, setting the stage for Perth.

He stayed in Australia for a few months after the Games, competing in meetings in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, including the Moomba carnival, where he won the 100 and was beaten in the 220.

"I had a great time in Melbourne," he said. "I stayed at the Parkville Motel (in Royal Parade). Judy Patching (the Melbourne Olympic starter) was our manager for the trip. I met John Landy, Ron Clarke, Herb Elliott — all the Australians. I went down to Percy Cerutty's camp at Portsea."

Antao even dropped in to an interclub meeting at Dolomore Reserve in Mentone. It was a typical summer day — a hot northerly, followed by a southerly change and downpour. Peter Fortune, Cathy Freeman's coach and then an interclub sprinter for Brighton, recalls how the Brighton boys were amazed and delighted to find the fastest man in the Commonwealth seeking shelter in their tent.

Antao left Kenya after the 1964 Olympics and settled in London. It could have been Melbourne, he says. "I was going to settle in Melbourne at one stage, but things change. Most of my friends were in London, so I stayed there."

Antao is not coming to Melbourne for the Games, which is a pity. Many a Kenyan athlete has been king of the Commonwealth Games — Keino in 1966, Ben Jipcho in 1974, Henry Rono in 1978 — but the first Kenyan to rule the track was a sprinter.


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