American Olympic champion Evans dies in Ogun

Tana Aiyejina

19 May 2021

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Former American sprinter Lee Evans, the 1968 Olympic 400m champion, has died aged 74, The PUNCH reports.

Evans suffered a stroke last week in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, and has been on life support at the Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ilishan-Remo.

Retired footballer and 1980 AFCON winner Segun Odegbami, a close friend of Evans, confirmed the death of the retired athlete and coach on WhatsApp platform Family United By Sports Wednesday night.

Odegbami wrote, “For my brother and friend, Lee Edward Evans – it is sunset!”

Evans died while in a coma and breathing through a ventilator.

Our correspondent learnt his children

had started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $500,000 and were working with the US embassy in Lagos to secure clearance to transport the Olympian to the United States for further medical care.

It was, however, learnt that COVID-19 restrictions hindered fast-tracking the process.

Evans daughter Menjanahary also stated that her father’s passport and other forms of documentation had been stolen.

The fallen sportsman, who coached the Nigerian athletics team for several years, had been working as a volunteer coach at the Segun Odegbami International College and Sports Academy, in Wasimi Orile, Ogun State, before his demise.

Last week, Odegbami pleaded with the US government to help provide immediate medical aid for the coach following his worsening condition.

“I was told that short of a miracle, there is little more the hospital can do for him from the prognosis. At best it will manage him and provide palliatives,” Odegbami said.

Evans was 21 when he won the 400m at the Mexico City Games in 43.86secs in 1968 , the first athlete to break the 44secs barrier in the event.

He also anchored the US 4x400m to gold in a world record. Both records stood for two decades.

Evans, a member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, wore a beret with his relay teammates during the medal ceremony in an ode to the Black Panther Party.

Evans later coached and directed track and field programmes for decades internationally, including Nigeria, where he worked the longest and coached a legion of some of the country’s greatest athletes

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