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IAAF mourns the death of renowned South African administrator and statistician Gert Le Roux

The IAAF is very saddened to learn of the death of Gert le Roux, from South Africa, who died at the age of 78 on Saturday (17).

Le Roux was a hugely respected and much loved administrator, writer and statistician and a contributor for a number of years to the IAAF website. A recipient of the IAAF Veteran Pin in 1995, Le Roux's passion and enthusiasm for our sport will be sadly missed.

On behalf of the global athletics family the IAAF offers its deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and friends.

Below is reproduced, with permission, an edited version of the obituary which appeared in the South African publication Distance Running Results.



Gert Le Roux – A Giant Of South African Athletics
by Riël Hauman

Gert le Roux was not a big man, nor a loud personality, but he was a giant in South African athletics and when he passed away on Saturday in Pretoria, two months after his 78th birthday, the sport in this country lost its most knowledgeable expert, its most meticulous historian, its most experienced and thorough administrator, and one of its most passionate observers.

Until he scaled down his activities in 2010 due to failing health, he was involved for 50 consecutive years in the publication of the SA Athletics Annual, the publication of the SA Athletics Statisticians (SAAS), of which he was the Editor for many years.

From personal experience, I can say that he was without doubt the most efficient and committed athletics administrator I have known.

His knowledge of the sport was unequalled and, like his three great predecessors, Harry Beinart, Allister Matthews and Arrie Joubert, he was renowned all over the world for his painstaking compilation of the sport’s history and statistics.

When I succeeded him as editor of the Annual, the accuracy and neatness of the track and field lists he continued to compile – and his other contributions – made my task infinitely easier.

Gert simply loved athletics – it was his life and his joy – and the athletes with whom he worked over the years loved him back.

In 1995, the IAAF honoured him with its Veteran of the IAAF award and he has been included in SA Breweries’ Hall of Fame of SA sports journalism.

Gert, who was born in Theunissen, attended Kroonstad High School and after graduating from the University of the Orange Free State (as it was then called) in 1955, he began his career as a news reporter at the SA Broadcasting Corporation in Johannesburg.

By that time he had already started to make cuttings from newspapers and compile results of athletics, rugby and cricket – in fact, he made his first sports scrapbook of the 1949 All Black rugby tour in South Africa. More scrapbooks followed, and from 1953 he subscribed to the newspaper Die Volksblad.

“I was never an athlete,” he told me, “but I do have a certificate for second place in the under-7 50 yards in Theunissen!” Later he long jumped and ran the 880 yards, but could not afford a pair of spikes and decided to concentrate on rugby.

Gert played rugby for Northern Free State and the Orange Free State under-19 team.  In 1958, he stopped playing to concentrate on writing about sport.

From 1959 to 1962 he worked as sports reporter at Die Transvaler, and from 1962 to 1971 at Dagbreek en Sondagnuus, where he was the sports editor for six years.

A very significant event in his career as statistician occurred towards the end of 1958 when he attended a league meeting at Willowmoore Park, Benoni, and met two of the three founding members of the SAAS, Matthews and Joubert (the other one was Beinart).

They invited him to become a member of the association, which had been formed in 1954, and the 1959 Annual was the first he helped with.

“My first really big moment was in 1960 when I saw Gert Potgieter run his third World record in the 440 yards hurdles, 49.3, at the SA Championships in Bloemfontein. The newspaper still called me ‘Our Special Correspondent’, but after my report appeared, I was told that henceforth I could write under my own name,” said Gert told me in 2009.

Gert’s wife of 54 years, Theo, passed away three months ago.

He is survived by two sons, Gerrie and Otto, and three grandchildren.

Gert continued his lively interest in athletics until near the end of his life. I will treasure our countless discussions about our beloved sport over the years.

As I watched Johan Cronje’s wonderful run in Moscow, I thought of Gert with great sadness  – he used to say that fellow Free Stater Cronje was the most talented middle distance runner in South Africa, and now this crowning achievement came one day too late for him to enjoy.

But Gert le Roux’s legacy will live on. He was a trailblazer in many ways, and a man of immense integrity.