The athletics family as well as members of the Nigeria Police were all in tears Thursday morning as the lying-in-state ceremony for Sunday Bada, former technical director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria was held at the National Stadium, Surelere, Lagos.
Mr. Bada’s body, which was driven into the stadium at about 10:15 a.m., was first received by athletes and officials at the Barracks bus stop before being escorted into the main bowl of the national stadium.
Before the day’s proceeding went full swing, there was a mock race for the late track star as the likes of Enefiok Udo- Obong, an ex Olympian took to the tracks to pay their last respect.
Bada’s widow holding consoling the daugther
“Since I retired couple of years back, I never knew anything could bring me back to the track and complete a 400m race. For Bada, that is not too much. Bada gave me my fondest memories as an athlete and I will do any thing within my power to honour him.” Udo-obong, a member of the quartet that won Gold for Nigeria at the Sydney Olympics, told Premium Times.
He went on to describe Bada as the Pillar of Nigerian athletics, pointing out that he would surely be missed.
“Bada was the pillar of athletics in Nigeria, now that the pillar is gone, I hope the house can still stand,” Mr. Udo-obong said passionately.
It was not surprising to see the widow of Bada, Sunmbo and the children weep uncontrollably when they took turns to walk past the casket of the family’s bread winner.
The daughter, Tinuola, kept shouting ‘daddy wake up… daddy wake up…’ before been whisked away by other family members.
Already the body of Bada is on the way to Ogidi, Kogi State, where it would be finally interred on Friday. Chioma Ajunwa, Gloria Objaimi and even non- athletes like Joe Erico , Okey Isima, former Green Eagles players, were all part of the mammoth crowd on hand to pay their last respect to Sunday Bada.
Athletes pay last respect for Late Sunday Bada on the tracks of the National Stadium Surulere
Bada, who until his death was the technical director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), slumped and died at the National Stadium, Lagos, on Monday evening, December 12.
The quarter miler, who would have clocked 42 on June 22 next year, won three medals at the World Indoor Championships, including a gold medal in 1997 at the Paris event.
He also won silver medals at the 1993 (Toronto) and 1995 (Barcelona) competitions.
Additionally, he was a part of the Nigerian team that won silver medal in 4 x 400 metres relay at the 2000 Olympics. Nigeria established a national record time of 2:58.68 minutes in that race.
He set his personal best of 44.63 seconds at the 1993 World Championships where he finished fifth. This is the second fastest time by a Nigerian sprinter, after Innocent Egbunike best of 44.17 seconds.
Bada’s indoor best of 45.51 seconds is still the African record for the event.