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The Goan Gazelle: Olympian Seraphino Antao

In our 3rd installment of ‘Goan Greats at the Olympics’, we shed some light on the Goan sprint king Seraphino Antao who competed twice in the Olympic Games. He is also famous for winning Gold medals in the 100 yards and 220 yards, at the Commonwealth Games in 1962.

Early years

Seraphino was born and brought up in Mombasa, Kenya. His family’s roots can be traced back to the South Goa village of Chandor. Seraphino was a keen sportsman and excelled in football, although when his talent for sprinting was realised, he focused solely on Athletics.

Career highlights

Seraphino trained at the Mombasa Achilles Athletics Club, under British Coach, Ray Bachelor who improved his running ability. In 1957, Seraphino broke the Kenyan record for 100 yards and 220 yards, which brought him recognition from the media. Seraphino also got to run against the World’s best sprinters when he competed across Europe in Track & Field meets.

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His first major championship exposure came when he represented Kenya at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales. Here he did not make it to the final, but he picked up valuable experience, which he utilized in later years.

Double Gold medalist

In 1960, Seraphino qualified for the Olympics in Rome. At these Games he reached the semi-finals of the 100 yards and the quarter-finals of the 200 yards event.

Two years later, it was Seraphino’s moment to shine at the Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, as he won the 100 yards in 9.5 seconds and 220 yards in 21.1 seconds. He became the first ever Kenyan to win a Gold medal at a major championship. He was also part of the Kenyan 4×440 relay team that stood fifth.

With the success at the Perth games, much was expected of Seraphino at the 1964 Olympics, in Tokyo. He was the flag bearer for Kenya at the opening ceremony of the games. Unfortunately he fell sick the night before his event and could not perform to his full potential. He made it to the second round of the 200 metres, but lost in the heats, of the 100 metres.

Retirement

Soon after the Olympics, Seraphino announced his retirement from Athletics. He moved to London and took up work. Many years after leaving Kenya, Seraphino was invited back to the country of his birth to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association, where he got a hero’s welcome.

Seraphino Antao died in 2011, at the age of 74, after a battle with cancer. His contribution to athletics will not be forgotten.

 

PHOTO COURTESY: Teamcourage.co.ke

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