Tracking Heroes: 13 Track & Field Champions
"The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning, but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering, but fighting well."
- Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games
"TRACKING HEROES" is about the dreams, goals, challenges, and values of thirteen track and field stars who sought the best in themselves, honored their sport, and enriched their world. Through these profiles you will meet athletes whose determination, drive, character, and courage led to success in sports and in their lives - men and women who overcame personal obstacles, experienced the excitement of competition, and savored the satisfaction of achievement.
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Interested in the unpublished story of another two-time American Olympian hero (naturalized from Cameroon)?
I am from Cameroon (PhD student, VA), West Africa, and my father (Esau Nji Ade, who naturalized as an American and now lives in Washington DC) ran with Prefontaine in the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. They personnally knew each other as fellow Olympians. I think the story of Pre is well told one, given what I know about him.
Reading his story brings tears to my eyes because, at least, America is recognizing a well-deserved distance runner and Olympian--which was not my father's case in Cameroon. Though having represented Cameroon in two Olympics (LA, in 1968, and Munich, in 1972), he qualified to be on the track and field team of Tokyo, 1964, but was discriminated against, dropped and repalced with a Francophone (from the majority side). He also represented Cameroon in several African games and holds the current Cameroon records for 3000m (steeple chase) and 5000m.
A little about my father's unique story as a forgotten African hero: He grew up in the then-Southern Cameroons (the anglophone minority) and came to discover his talent only due to the mistreatments of an uncle. To avoid the coporal punishment meted on pupils for late-coming in those days, my father would run for a mile or two every morning to school only after the bell went off. Since his uncle would not let him go early (because of excessive morning chores), and he hated being whipped in school, he always ran with excessive speeds just to make it on time--that's how he started practicing!
Though he didn't get any gold medals, he was widely known in Cameroon (and Africa, training with Mohamed Gamoudi form Tunisia several times in France prior to the Olympics) for the plethora of medals and honor he brought Cameroon through his running carreer. He also furthered his studies in Germany (Universities of Berlin and Koln) in the 80's and later served as the country's (or South West) athletic coach and Physiotherapist. Even though he is suffering from a partial stroke, many Africans in the Diaspora are still intrigued and inspired whenever he tells his stories about travelling the world to represent his beloved Cameroon (Africa) in track and field-related events. Until now, if someone is running well among our people, he is referred to as an "Ade".
PS: Email or call me if you want to hear more about his story. I wish that it can be published so his legacy will keep on living. email@example.com/4342587200.