Joe Bloggs:An Unlikely Hussar part 35 Me, the 1970 Commonwealth Games and two generations of decathlon aspirations

commonwealth games decathlon aspirations

Two generations of Commonwealth Games decathletes: I am pictured here with my son, Rafer, whom I named after the great decathlete of the 1960 Olympics, Rafer Johnson. I wanted to enter The Commonwealth Games which was in Edinburgh in 1970. Tony Eaton was the APTC PTI attached to our regiment who had been driving me around the country to help me compete in the various athletics competitions since I had been in Bovington. I told him I wanted to enter The Commonwealth Games, especially while it was so near to home. I hadn’t accumulated enough points in a decathlon to be picked to represent England or GB in a decathlon as yet and so it was unlikely that I would be selected. There were not enough decathlon competitions for me to compete in before the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games and I wasn’t well known enough as an athlete in England. Rather than wait to get selected that way as there wasn’t time, Tony advised me to write to the Guyana government to ask if I could represent my birth country, Guyana, in the games. I wrote the letter immediately and sent it to the Guyana High Commission in London and received this reply in January 1970:  commonwealth games letter 1

I waited and waited to hear from Guyana, which had gained independence from Britain in 1966 and was no longer known as British Guiana. Meanwhile I had a job to do, performing music all along the Dorset Coast, training and competitions to press forward with and all the other sports I was involved in especially football, of which I shall say more later. The Games were getting nearer and I still hadn’t heard, but eventually I got this letter from the Guyana AAA.:

Commonwealth Games Letter 2

I supplied the information they wanted straight away and since they had said I was to meet my own expenses, I set about getting the arrangements in place with the help of my regiment. I got an army warrant and permission to stay in the army barracks at Edinburgh and arrangements to get me from there to the stadium and back on competition days. A lot of work was done behind the scenes for me with regard to my rations and other things I would need. I did not have to travel with poles as I was told I could borrow army poles already up there. With all this behind me, I was really excited and looking forward to the event. I travelled up to Edinburgh by train and settled into the barracks but still lacked some of the necessary documentation. When I presented myself at the registration office at the stadium they said sorry but the relevant details had not arrived yet, and if they hadn’t arrived by a certain time then I would not be eligible to take part. The officers in camp helped me to try to get the needed documentation from the Guyana government officials but we were given the run around to no avail. The deadline passed, so unfortunately I couldn’t compete after all that trouble. I couldn’t get to see the opening ceremony, but at least I did watch the decathlon and some of the other events in different venues because the army was heavily involved with the games. The decathlon was won by Geoff Smith of Australia. Peter Gabbett came second for England and Barry King (also for England) third. I made friends with Mike Bull the Irish athlete who came first in the pole vault. I was very well treated by the Scottish regiment and saw some tremendous performances, so at least I came away with something positive to make up for the frustration and disappointment of not being able to compete for no other reason than documentation that I had no control over. I still believed that I had a couple of good decathlons left in me but as the next Commonwealth Games would be in New Zealand, I would not get that chance again.

If you want to know how I went on to achieve my ambitions in international sport and music around the globe, then click on the “follow” pop-up button at the bottom right hand corner of this page, and sign up, or follow me on my “Jane Joseph author” page on Facebook. Earlier parts of the story are also found on this website. If you want to find out what happened in my later life when I returned to help develop my birth country Guyana in South America, then order “The ElDorado Affair” by Jane Joseph ISBN 978-0-9932409-0-4 published by Sapodilla Press available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.co.uk, order it through Waterstones or your local book store via Nielsens teledata or read it in Kindle format ISBN 978-0-9932409-1-1 available worldwide on Amazon.com

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