Talanoa with Ajay Bhai Amrit: My school hero George, an exceptional athlete

What might have been for George Washington, his favourite club Tottenham and their youth academy. (PC thfacademy. com)

GREETINGS readers!

Today I reminisce, look back and pay homage to my friend and also hero during my school days. His real name was George James, but was known to all of us as George Washington.

Why we called him that I will never know, but just like the exceptional person he was, he also had a great name. It would be very hard for me to truly explain in words what type of person he was, but he was certainly an exceptional athlete, he was a great soccer player and a gifted rugby player, and looking back maybe his greatest attribute was his endurance and stamina, which seemed unlimited and made him a formidable force in any sport he played

. I distinctly remember George wasn’t a long-distance runner, but just for the fun of it he took a bet on and destroyed the school’s 5000 metre champion.

This was in spite of George being a champion at his favourite distance to race which was the 400 metres and 800 metres distance.

I would go as far as to say George has the greatest stamina I have ever seen for a young man, and he could run for miles on end and sprint like lightning when needed.

At 16 years of age, he was about 6 foot tall and roughly 70kg and a wonderfully balanced and gifted individual, plus such a great soccer player, rugby player and all round athlete.

I remember once, George just missed the bus we were all going to school on, rather than wait for the next one, we watched in amazement from the rear window as he began to run picking up speed with his heavy school bag over his shoulder.

He began to gain on the bus in and out of traffic and was sprinting so fast after about 1 mile he caught the bus and overtook it to arrive at the next bus stop before we did.

When he boarded all the school kids on the bus including me stood up and applauded him, as usual being as cool as ever, he shrugged it off as though it was nothing.

This was indeed a moment I will never forget, maybe because I knew this was a very special individual we were watching, but more so because he was my friend, and I was so proud of him.

There are so many stories I could tell you, one day he turned out for rugby practice when he was around 15 years old and was asked to show the top pick of the under 15s team how to evade tackles.

All 15 players from the assembled team stood there ready to take George out and just like an airplane he glided and accelerated from one end of the pitch to the other dodging, stepping and darting past all 15 players and I swear not one person laid their hand on him, it was a phenomenal feat for us students to watch.

I think the whole school remembers him running the 4 X 400 metres anchor leg for our school against all the other schools in the district final and our team had dropped the baton in the last change over.

With almost 150 metres to make up George collected the baton, he bolted out after the leading runner, he made up so much ground over the first 300 metres and into the last 100 metres he pipped the lead runner at the line to win gold for our school again an amazing feat for all of us to watch. George Washington was tall, handsome and very athletic, to add to this he had a shy personality where he never thought it was a big deal what he did on the sports field or even in and around school, but he really was a school hero to everyone.

When he reached the age of 16 there were some tough decisions to make as George was a champion 400 and 800 metres runner and had the athletics scouts after him.

There were two top soccer clubs — Tottenham and Arsenal — chasing him for his signature to train and play as a youth player at their academy to see how good he really could be.

At the tender age of 16 and taken out of a protective school environment George was now the property of agents and managers,
this led to him being disillusioned smoking, drinking and getting involved with a string of women, which ultimately led to his quick downfall and certainly not achieving the heights we all thought he would reach.

George reached out to me a few weeks ago, feeling thoroughly depressed as he knows he wasted a lot of his life and didn’t achieve anywhere near to what he could have. I told him to let the past go and make sure his children didn’t make the same mistakes, tell them to make every day count and guide them as any good father would.

This is a hard lesson that poor choices can ultimately lead to your downfall and also have an impact on others around you.
I remember the adulation of the whole school and his legions of fans who followed his sporting success, but this has long gone, and only broken dreams are left I was given the very sad news that my school hero George Washington died a few days ago, and I suspect it was more from a broken heart than any other medical ailment. He is gone way too soon, but I now realise just how special he was to me and certainly someone who would only come along once in a lifetime.

Looking back, he brought joy to so many especially during our student days as it seemed he gave the whole school a sense of belonging and someone to ultimately
look up to. George was someone I believe we all wanted to be, he was kind, considerate and he had more natural talent than anyone I have ever met.

Rest In Peace my brother, our school hero gone, but the memories are never forgotten.

  • AJAY BHAI AMRIT is a founding
    member of The People’s Alliance party
    and is also a freelance writer. The views
    expressed in this article are his and do
    not necessarily reflect the views of this

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