Last weekend at the 98th Annual Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, Ajoke Odumosu ran the fastest time in the world this year in the 400m hurdles . Two weeks earlier, in blustery conditions, she set the world's fastest time in the 400m.  I do not know of any athlete, male or female, who has ever performed at this level in both of those demanding events.
Ajoke turned up with a friend at a recruiting camp I was holding in Lagos in 2002. She was 15 and ran a 61 second 400 hurdles - not an exceptional time, but close, and she seemed very determined and exceptionally bright, so I offered her a scholarship. On Sunday she ran 55.37 seconds, and this Saturday she will graduate with a degree in business administration.
This is not too shabby for a young woman who comes from Ijebu-Ode, a small city in Ogun State, whose hospitals are overcrowded, and have almost none of the most ordinary medicines that are so easily available to us. They could have been used by Diane Sawyer or Oprah, or Obama on one of their bogus television programs about how AIDS is filling the hospitals of Africa.
I remember when AIDS was called GRIDS (Gay Related Immunodeficiency Syndrome), and like everyone else in America I knew that the name was quickly changed for mostly political reasons. I also remember when it became pretty obvious that there was no heterosexual epidemic of HIV/AIDS in America, or any other G-7 country -- a fact demonstrated clearly here last week -- that it was also politically expedient, as they say, to switch the "blame" for AIDS to Africa. And this time, there was not a single voice of protest over this cynical and racist maneuver.
Just the opposite happened. It became fashionable to side with the government propaganda. Why? I think every American, whatever racial mixture they might be, should be asking themselves this question, especially now as we watch the mess of government deceptions and mistakes in Iraq on the same televisions that brought us an HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States that never was, and an epidemic in Africa that is only another name for poverty.
Peace & Love
A new biography, by noted sport's writer Frank Murphy, The Last Protest: Lee Evans in Mexico City, contains the only account of that unforgettable olympics Lee vouches for as accurate. Mr. Evans is currently the head track and field coach at The Univesity of South Alabama in Mobile, and one of his recruits, Vincent Rono (from Kenya) captured the gold in the men's 1500 m. final of the NCAA games held in Sacramento in June 2006. Almost nobody knew this because the TV commenters thought the real story was in interviewing the second place finisher from Florida. Even though he lost, his team (the favorite) still took first, and the TV people wanted to make sure he did not feel really badly about being beaten by some African from a no name university who was coached by the still unmentionable Lee Evans, who told Avery Brundidge and the entire racist Olympic establishment where to shove it 40 years ago. And since he never recanted, he has never been forgiven. I don't have to say how many national medals the UofSouthA won before his arrival four short years ago, but it would be the same as the number of AIDS patients cured in more than 25. An instructive discourse on the African origins of AIDS is located here. [Ed.]