The greatest 100 Yards race ever ran in Cape Coast, Ghana was a 100-yard Inter-Co Race in 1969 at St Augustine’s College Park.
It was a race of great fire works, because InterCo was and still is a huge festival of athletic competition among schools & colleges in Cape Coast.
It combines a festival of pomp, pageantry display, music and showtime of beautiful girls and smart guys smilling together at its events.
At the 1969 showdown, teacher Ebow Kutu made sure every runner stayed in lane. Enthusiastic teachers and sports administrators like him promoted athletics in schools.
St Augustine (sometimes Augusco) then had a sports recruitment policy that helped the school to recruit top sports stars, some of whom even played for national teams.
In football, Augusco had Alex Mingle, Big Ben, Edward Boye (Gibraltar), Attu Mensah, Mike Ahlassan and Brefo (Obeng).
They dominated football with a great goalkeeper Robert Mensah of the famous Cape Coast Mysterious Dwarfs. Cape Coast schools had the best and finest.
For the town dwellers and adventurous kids, sporting events were glorious memorable occasions.
In athletics, St Augustine had a sprinter called George Kofi Daniels alias Jupiter from Amanful, Cape Coast. He used to beat everyone; he was a top runner who ended the reign of Mike Ahey, dominating the sprints in Ghana, Africa and the British Commonwealth.
In 1972 Olympics, Jupiter reached the semifinals. He was a burly, handsome black man who could run like a cheetah and outrun anyone in relays like a steam engine. He was a phenomenon and many athletes were afraid to run against him.
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Then there’s the rival girls schools – Holy Child College and Wesley Girls High School.
However, the competition was between three great boys schools: Adisadel College, St Augustine and Mfantsipim.
Albino vs Jupiter
The D-Day came which was a Saturday, the stadium was full by 11:00 am. Cape Coasters have taken over when they heard that Albion Mends III is also from Cape Coast.
Albion was a bespectacled, handsome young man, but he was so fair, they called him an albino. Then the name stuck after a while, and the alias Albino became his recognition.
It was too much that day at St Augustine’s College, Jupiter versus Albino was a huge event for the history book. That particular year the support had reached a crescendo.
The noise was deafening, especially from Mfantsipim Boys. “ALBINO… A-L-B-I-N-O! AlbiiiiiiiiiNooo!” No one has heard of Albino before except the Kwabotwe boys.
“Albinoooo!!!” They shouted. They carried placards and other noise makers; it was as though the Kwabotwe boys were possessed.
Small wagers were made on the side by many spectators. That time betting was common amongst students who had money. They could bet on anything. It was a big event for sweet music, lovers and wannabes.
Kwabotwe sang…”Hɔn na obotum Albino…abeile..Sokoo…Hmmm.“
Then they called for the 100 yards heats. Albino was in the first group and the master runner, Jupiter, in the second group. Adisadel College (sometimes called Adisco) always had good sprinters but when Jupiter came, he dominated the sprint races.
When the race started, Albino went ahead of his group like a hare. The free flowing run had never been seen before. His style, grace and poise were breathtaking.
Albino then touched the finishing rope first and he had a stroll to the huge cheers of the Mfantsipm boys who all broke through the lines to hug and embrace Albino. “Wow! It is true this man can run like that,” the students gasped.
Then the gun went for the second heat and Jupiter ran the race of his life leaving his contestants almost halfway into the tracks.
In-between the 100 yards heats, the next big event was the 800 yards race. Mfantsipim’s 800 Yards Runner and a national athlete won with style and a most delightful running that would send the whole stadium in delight and uproar — “Welɛɛ!”
St Augustine’s flew their green flags of the saints and they went full throttle to support their national hero, Jupiter.
Adisco was already leading in points and was very noisy. The place was agog and Kwabotwe was the loudest.
Something will happen at all cost from what Mfantsipim was doing, even at third position on the score table.
They sang loud that they were there for ONE EVENT – the 100 Yards.
The Red Flags were flying and Albino was pacing and jogging round and round the park while Jupiter and his teammates followed.
Then they called the race, it was a 100 yards dash for Glory and spectators held spell bound: The huge crowd suddenly felt silent.
“Get Ready…On Your Marks, Get Set…GO!” Albino shot out from the ground like a spear and flew off, Jupiter as well followed, and it was like a war.
Albino won’t be caught in this fast race, he ran like it was for his life, chased by Jupiter from the lagoon area towards the school track area.
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“Jupiter would catch him they shouted,” but he never caught Albino as he broke the finishing rope and hurled it above his head towards the kwabotwe boys who descended the dais against every order to stop. They threw themselves on the ground shedding tears of great joy.
It was to them the end of the 1969 InterCo. They had seen Albino running in the Interhouses and believed in him that he would smash the reign of Jupiter. The whole crowd was dumbfounded, and everything was up in the air.
Sometime after the event, Jupiter went to America and came back to form Great Republicans Colts Football Team in Cape Coast to produce top footballers, but he has now gone to be with the Ancestors.
Albino however, was not heard from after college for a very long time. Sometimes they thought he was a spirit that came and left.
Later, they heard that Albino was actually a local, and his family is from Kawanupado/Turom of Oguaa Kusubentsir Fie like Kofi Daniels from Amanful Esiw Enyim!
That was a race!!!
Written by Paa Kofi Freeman Amposa-Dadzie.
Oral Ofori is Founder and Publisher at www.TheAfricanDream.net, a digital storyteller and producer, and also an information and research consultant.