25 Jan. 2003. Saturday Nation. Pioneer Running Hero Back
25 Jan. 2003. East African Standard. Antao calls for trust
31Jan to 06 Feb 2003. Coast Week. Special Report.
01 Feb 2003. East African Standard. Antao put Kenya on
01 Feb 2003. East African Standard (Nairobi). Winning
Two Gold in Perth Most Memorable
26 Nov. 2003. Herald. The Gazelle comes home for a short
14 March. 2004. East African Standard. Antao foresees
Kenya regaining sports glory
19 Mar to 25 Mar 2004. Coast Week. Seraphino Antao back
on a visit to friends in Mombasa
Jan. 2006. The Age (Australia). In the Kenyan vanguard.
By Len Johnson
January 25, 2003
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.
Antao, Kenya's first medallist at theCommonwealth in Australia
in 1952 during the interview yesterday. Pic by a Correspondent
Running Hero Back Home
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.
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
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.
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.
66-year-old, passionately said: "We (Kenyans) might
be out there for a long time but in our hearts, this remains
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
January 25, 2003
calls for trust fund
Antao, the first Kenyan to win a medal for the country has
called for the establishment of a trust fund to support
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
regretted that retired athletes have been left to suffer
saying only the establishment of a trust will reverse the
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).
government should set up a fund to assist retired athletes
just like the British Boxing Association has done,"
down memory lane, Antao said the sport has changed tremendously
from the days in terms of practise and competition.
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.
moment of glory came in 1962 when he won two gold medals
in the 100m and 200m events in the Commonwealth Games held
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.
Minister, Najib Balala, will be the chief guest.
© 2003 . The Standard Ltd
31 - February 06, 2003
NO: 1564 - 0272M
ACHILLES ATHLETICS CLUB IN 1956
SERAPHINO ANTAO - SUPER SPRINTER OF THE SIXTIES
CLUB - AND TROPHIES - IN 1956
ANTAO AND RAY BACHELOR
- - 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.
ANTAO - SUPER
SPRINTER OF THE SIXTIES
MOMBASA MAN WHO
FIRST GOLD MEDAL IN ATHLETICS
INTERVIEW by ANJUM ASODIA
- - 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
- - 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.
PHOTO - ANJUM ASODIA
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
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.
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.
course the fact that he was a regular customer at our shop
on Haile Selassie Avenue (then Station Road) was an added
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).
was brought up in Ganjoni and Makupa, moving home many times
since his father worked for the Railways and occupied the
HIGH SCHOOL MOMBASA
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.
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.
first break came in 1956 when he was eligible to participate
in a national competition held in Nairobi.
his true colours came to light and Antao decided to pursue
sprint events with more gusto.
managed to break the Kenya National records for 100 and
220 yards in 1957 and knew that he was destined for more
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
now, Seraphino was holding a job as a supervisor with the
Landing and Shipping Company who were agents for the East
Training was regularly held at the East African Railways
Sports Club and the Mombasa Municipal Stadium.
- - Seraphino Antao holds the memento given to him by
the Nairobi Institute honouring his achievements.
attempt at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome showed a marked
improvement on his past attempt as he only just missed the
was however invited to London to compete against the United
States of America where he also fared quite well.
in Mombasa, training was now more in earnest as he got himself
a professional coach Ray Batchelor.
trained together two to three hours a day, every day of
the week including Sundays and everything got more technical
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.
GAMES' IN TOKYO
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
also participated in the 4 x 440 yards relay with the Kenyan
team who finished fifth in the final.
hero's welcome awaited him back home, forever etching his
name out in Kenyan athletic history.
1963 he was invited to the Australian Games where he made
a mark for himself and all Kenyans.
next hurdle was the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo where he
was the flagbearer for the Kenyan team.
he fell ill just before his event and had to retire.
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.
after the Tokyo Olympics, Seraphino decided to immigrate
to the U.K.
he ran a boutique in London for a few years, before he joined
Thorn EMI as an Accounts Assistant.
worked for this international firm for about 30 years, before
retiring ten years ago.
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.
he is still very fit training in his gym at home at least
three days a week.
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
FLUENT 'SWAHILI' SPEAKER
still speaks Kiswahili very fluently, despite having been
away for almost 40 years.
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
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".
Goan Institute in Nairobi also honoured him with a dinner
party and a memento for his achievements.
has also been featured on the international athletics website
featuring past runners and their biographies
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.
February 01, 2003
put Kenya on world map
about events that took place between 1956 and 1964 with
great detail is only possible with a subject so close to
Antao recalls every detail of what happened between those
years as if they took place only the other day.
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
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.
he is a naturalised British, he joined pioneer Kenyan athletes
during the Athletics Kenya Gala Night last weekend where
medalists were garlanded and honoured.
living in London since 1965, Antao could hardly remember
Nairobi streets or buildings.
things have changed! The only place I recognise well is
the Railway Station where we used to disembark from Mombasa,"
also recognised Government Road (now Moi Avenue) but buildings
are so tall I got lost in the middle," he said.
left Kenya in 1965, one year after retiring from athletics.
He returned briefly in 1968, but only for two months.
was back in London where he worked for Thorn EMI as an accounts
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.
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.
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
years later, he reached the semi-finals of the 100 yards
and quarter-finals of the 200 yards at the Rome Olympic
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.
Kenya became an independent nation in 1963, Antao became
the first flag bearer when the team went to the Tokyo Olympics
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
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
He won a double at the British Championships in 1962.
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.
received the award from the Colonial Governor, Malcolm McDonald,
at Government House, now State House.
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.
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.
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.
February 01, 2003
AFRICAN STANDARD (Nairobi)
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.
When did you start your athletics career and where?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
A little background on your personal life?
A: I was born in Mombasa and went to Goan High School.
I am single by choice.
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.
reception when I came back home was tremendous though I
did not receive any reward from the government.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
How was athletics then compared to the state of athletics
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.
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
Why has Kenya not performed well in sprints and field
events compared to their performance in the middle and long-distance
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.
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.
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.
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.
Any hope of coming back to settle in Kenya?
A: I am not sure but I hope it will come to be.
November 26, 2004
Gazelle comes home for a short graze
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.
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.
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.
he with pride looking back on his years in international
sport: *You could say I started Kenya*s gold rush, in a
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.
remains the athlete to represent Kenya who ever won gold
in the short sprints at any world level.
a fit sexagenarian, Antao recalls his Chandor links with
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.
sister, Iggy (Ignaciana) Antao, was also a good sprinter,
while his brother Rosario was a long-jumper.
Goans may have represented the world in various sporting
events, but Antao is probably the only one to do so well
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.
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.
was a very good year. I lost only one race in the entire
year,* says he, recalling his career as a sprinter between
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.
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.
*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
sees the the selection of Delhi for the Commonwealth Games
in 2010 as an opportunity to promote promising athletes.
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.
suggestion: Use the next seven years to source out talented
kids from colleges or schools, and build them into world-class
March 14, 2004
AFRICAN STANDARD (Nairobi)
foresees Kenya regaining sports glory
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
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.
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.
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.
Antao crossing the line first in 100 yards during
the Kenya inter-provincial athletics championships
in Kisumu 41 years ago
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.
can see Paul Tergat becoming the first Kenyan to
win an Olympics marathon gold medal," Antao
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.
(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.
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.
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
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.
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.
does not like the idea of athletes changing their
passports for the sake of money.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
is bitter that sportsmen and women abuse drugs to
excel, recalling that during their days, it was natural
talent and hard training that mattered.
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.
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
in Mombasa 67 years ago to Goan parents, Antao attended
local schools before joining the then Goan Secondary
School (now Mombasa High School).
launched his athletics career while working as a clerk
in Landing and Shipping Company, which were agents
for East African Railways and Harbours Corporation.
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.
years later, he reached the semi-finals of 100 yards
and quarter finals of the 200 yards in Rome Olympics.
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.
Kenya attained independence from Britain in 1963,
Antao became the first flag bearer when the team went
to the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.
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.
stopped running after the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo where
he did not perform well after falling ill on the eve
of his race.
also became busy to concentrate on athletics, considering
I also had a career to pursue," he said.
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.
19 - 25, 2004
Seraphino Antao back on a visit to friends in Mombasa
welcome from coast goans
- - 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.
- - Willy Lobo (left) seen with Jose Menezes,
Seraphino Antao, Michael Fernandes and Charlie D'Souza.
- - Bernard D'Souza (left) seen with Seraphino Antao,
Mombasa Goan COmmunity chairman Agapito Pereira and
28 January 2006
the Kenyan vanguard
Antao, whose gold medals in the sprints in Perth 1962
preceded the gold rush won by Kenya's dynasty of distance
Photo: Nick Lockett
first Commonwealth Games gold medals were won by a
sprinter. Len Johnson tracked him down.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
brother lives in Perth," says Antao. "He
sends me every news item about Perry Lakes."
was born in Mombasa in October 1937. The family lived
in several towns, as his father worked for the railways.
high school, he played soccer mainly. Once he took
up athletics, he progressed quickly, winning a national
meeting in Nairobi.
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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."
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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