Herbert Robinson

Although I could never claim to have been talented at any sport, I have always loved football, cricket and squash.  But my passion has always been rugby – the social life and the comradeship were almost as important to me as the game.  In my native Ireland, in Canada, Australia, England and Nigeria, I played them all.  Sport dominated my social calendar for as long as I could remember.

When I arrived in Caracas in late 1978, to take up my new position with Maraven, the oil company – it used to belong to Shell, nobody seemed to have heard of any of my sporting interests being played locally.  I was taken to the office of Herbert Robinson.  I was told that if anybody knew about sports, it would be Herbert.

Formerly from Trinidad, Herbert was an ex-sprinter, who had represented Venezuela in international competitions.  And he still looked the part – lean and muscular.  He was not able to help me with my preferred sports – they probably did not exist in that era in Caracas, but suggested that I go with him that weekend to an oil industry 10km cross-county race.  I protested that I had never competed in a race of any distance, but he insisted that I looked fit and that I would enjoy the experience.  I acquiesced.

So that Sunday I turned up at the Parque del Este and, to my surprise, won the race by several minutes.  Soon after Herbert entered me in a public race, in which I came third and again soon after, with the same result.  I was hooked and in the next 25 years I competed in more than 350 races in several countries, although only very rarely finishing in one of the top positions.

After I moved on from Caracas, I lost touch with Herbert.  But I will be eternally grateful for his guidance and support.  And who knows, perhaps our paths will once more cross.

But almost certainly never again in a race.

Herbert Robinson, Iris, Jorge Herrera, Ivonne Garban and Len Blackwood