Bernard Adams has run his last race

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TO WRITE about one of your friends who has died is horrendous.

Just last week, the national coach and former 800m record-holder, Wilfred Daniels, and I had spoken about the relay quartet that should have been on the track at the nationals in 1984.

Daniels was correct in the selection of the team of Nazeem Smith, Godfrey Fitz, Nathan Sassman and Clement du Plessis. Fitz and Sassman had qualified to be in the team as sprinters, and so doing qualified for the relay team. That was without question the right thing to do by the coach.

BA Relay Insert
Nazeem Smith, Bernard Adams, Clement du Plessis and Naziem Moos.

Except, I was passionate about the fact that Naziem Moos and Bernard Adams had been integral members/friends of the relay quartet attached to Smith and du Plessis. The 1984 WP relay team came second at the nationals to Boland. Although at the time, 1984, the Hewat relay team did not have the SA record, yet, we had remained unbeaten.

Nonetheless, we had trained after college on the grey cinder track of Hewat; Moos, du Plessis, Adams and Smith in that order.

By 1985 all relay records; colleges, clubs and national had been wiped off the record books, thanks to a bullet start by Naziem Moos, a tremendous bend by BA (the gap opened up) and Smith with his customary finish, hitting the tape in a record time almost every time we ran the relay! I ran the back straight, only because I am lefthanded. No argument.

Bernard Adams was the inspirational factor in the relay, in fact, in almost all of our achievements.

BA insert
Bernard Adams and his main rival in the shot put, Lionel Gideon, left.

In a relaxing way, he would inspire. “Dip Gents”; jack up your performance or meaning; get out there and do it! Or, in a teasing way, the race was too close for comfort, gents. “Ahhhhrrr jy kan vir hom wen, jaaaa, ons moet job” – “Job”, meaning train; work hard; put in the hours.

There had been no better model than Nazeem Smith. We worked hard in 1985 and 1986. The records came in the shot put, discus, 100, 200, 400, 4X100m and 4X400m. We had the time of our lives.

Many times we spent time at my father’s place. Bernie would tackle the grapes on the vine followed by the rest. It would be our first meal since the jungle oats that morning. It got better.

The evenings after the Dal there would be a postmortem about the meet in Paarl. One evening after the meeting at the Dal, the entire Hewat and Spartans teams ended up at the Fair at the Goodwood showgrounds.

As luck would have it, someone had picked up a batch of tickets and we all had free rides until the lights went out. We had gone to the Fair on the same evening when the relay record was run in Paarl that had not been recognised by the organisers because the relay event wasn’t on the programme. That’s a story for another day.

BA Discus Insert
Bernard Adams pivots in the discus event.

Bernie or BA was always on the track, the versatile athlete from Livingstone High and Hewat Training College, who had trained like a boxer with a towel around his neck, always sweating profusely.

Of course, his training was not in vain, he held the shot put and discus SA record. He was no slouch on the track, either.

He was a mean 200m and 400m athlete.

He would always call his victories on the track “an upset”. I am not doing justice in the way he said it, with a giggle in his voice. “Errrrr upset gents.”

He would laugh as if it were the biggest bladdy joke in town. And we would all laugh afterwards poking fun at each other. Tremendous.

Thanks for the laughs BA. Go well, brother. From Smith, Moos and du Plessis.

Your death has upset us, it’s no bladdy joke. Rest well, big man.

One thought on “Bernard Adams has run his last race

  • October 11, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Another few decades will elapse before a relay team of the calibre of Naziem Moos, Clement du Plessis, Bernie Adams and Nazeem Smith will emerge. Everytime I watch world athletics, I picture these guys on the track. Although Bolt’s 4×100 team, as well as the USA team are miles faster than the Hewat team, they could take some lesson from the Hewat team’s takeovers…those takeover were sleek and lots of time and effort were put into it…Bernie was always the one to emphasize the importance of those takeovers. It was the sleekness of these takeovers which allowed the team to shatter the records time and again!


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