Sport in the Western Cape and the country suffered a tremendous blow with the untimely death of veteran sport administrator and coach Abrie de Swardt.
Abrie died on Saturday 15 August of a heart attack. He was 70 years old. He is survived by his wife Sharon and two sons, Abrie and Martin.
The Western Cape Provincial Sport Council (WCPSC) is saddened by the loss of a loyal and passionate servant to sport. He leaves a hole that will be hard to fill. Abrie was head of the WCPSC Coaches Commission for many years and one cannot buy his experience and knowledge at the corner shop.
Abrie lived in George and really served sport in the area well. During his long and fruitful career he was a member of various sport organisations and among others served as president of Athletics South Western Districts, executive member of the Eden Sport Council, Eden and Western Cape Coaches Commission and manager of the Eden Sport Academy.
He also was an accredit middle distance coach of the International Athletics Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF). He accompanied the South African Athletics Team to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens as a member of the coaching staff.
Tributes for Abrie and his contribution to sport came in from far and wide and the Western Cape government said it was saddened by the passing of one of the sporting community’s greatest champions.
Abrie committed the better part of his lifetime to sport and the development of athletes. He served on various athletics bodies, and was very involved in the promotion of athletics in the district, and the province at large. Internationally known as an athletics coach, Abrie travelled to the Olympic Games as coach to the South African National Athletics team.
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport recognised his contribution to sport in our province and in 2009 he was honoured as a Western Cape Provincial Sports Legend.
Minister Anroux Marais said their heartfelt condolences go to Abrie’s family, friends and his sporting community. We are grateful for all he did for sport and recreation in our province. His presence sure will be missed but his legacy will live on as inspiration for many young athletes to come.
The South African Athletics Statisticians (SAAS) decided in 2008 to honour South Africa’s leading coaches in the Hall of Fame for the role they played in developing athletics in South Africa.
Only 23 coaches, including Abrie de Swardt, have been acknowledged in this way – testament to his stature in the athletics world. Together with his colleague Ian Harries, De Swardt was the first South African to qualify as an IAAF coaches lecturer and course director in 1994.
Abrie de Swardt was a legend and his immense contribution to sport will be his enduring legacy.