By Ben Efe and Jacob Ajom
Those who had tears generously poured it out as hundreds of athletes, friends and fans were united in grief at the National Stadium yesterday as they paid their last respects to late Sunday Bada who laid-in- state on the very National stadium tracks, which brought him local and international fame.
Coincidentally it was at the same National Stadium he had his last moments with fellow athletes before he took ill and died suddenly on December 12. Eminent sports personalities and athletes could not hide their emotions as they file past the remains of the former Olympic and All Africa Games hero. And they spoke of their regrets at the death of a man who gave so much to the sport as an athlete and administrator.
Moments later Bada’s corpse was loaded back into the casket and wheeled into the Nigeria Police Force ambulance for the long ride to his final resting place at Ogidi situated in the Ijimu local government area of Kogi.
Former national 400m champion, Dr. Bruce Ijirigho stated that Bada left footprints in track and field and Nigeria could only honor him by producing athletes like him.
“He was a very good person. And he made remarkable achievements, we can only wish that we have more committed and dedicated athletes like him,” Ijirigho said.
Bada’s teammate at the Sydney 2000 Olympics Enefiok Udo-Obong said: “Bada cannot be forgotten. I wish the Athletics Federation of Nigeria can initiate a Sunday Bada Foundation. This will go a long way in helping the family, particularly, the children he left behind.”
Continuing the former quarter miler said he was sure the AFN President, Solomon Ogba whom he described as “a very thoughtful man,” would do something in that direction. “I know Ogba very well. He will be up to it.”
United Arab Emirate based coach, Sade Olalekan stated that Bada was like a mentor to him and it was sad to see him die when he was most needed.
“I remember when I was still struggling to make my mark as a coach, Bada challenged me never to give up. He urged me to produce quality athletes and I took his words and today I’m happy for it. He is going to be missed by us in the athletics family,” said Olalekan.
Bada who died at 41, won three medals at World Indoor Championships, including a gold medal in 1997 at the Paris event. He also won silver medals at the 1993 in Toronto and 1995 in Barcelona competitions.