Athletics South Africa has paid glowing tribute to the late Owen van Niekerk who passed away on Monday 31 July 2023 at the blessed age of 89 years.
Populary known as Oom Owen, he leaves a legacy as one of the most experienced coaches in the country who arguably guided thousands of athletes over a 60 year coaching career. He was also a national athlete himself in the 1950s, finishing second in the triple jump at the 1960 South African Championships behind Barris van Houten with Edward Couper who finished third.
He went on to win the title in 1961 with 48 feet 5 inches ahead of runner-up Johan van Loggerenberg and Barris van Houten at third. In 1962 he again won it with 49 feet 4.1/4 inches with Chris Potgieter coming second and Mark Franklin at third. He then finished third in 1963 behind A Ruuskanen of Finland and Johan van Loggerenberg.
Oom Owen had various other successes in the field of Athletics and proved to be a versatile athlete who also participated in decathlon and the triple jump. His career was peehaps crowned when he set his best in the triple jump with 15.49 m on 23 March 1963, which was also a South African record that would stand for seven years.
Oom Owen went on represented South Africa against the touring team of Finland in 1963.
"When you look back at the history of his career, you can spend the whole month talking about it. We cannot all safely say that he lived his life.
"The entire Athletics Family mourns with family and his province. This is a man who touched many lives through his work in Athletics career and went on to train others to be true athletes.
"We wish this legend eternal resting and peace. And may God have mercy on his soul," said James Moloi, the President of Athletics South Africa.
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About Athletics South Africa:
Athletics South Africa (ASA) is the national governing body for the sport of athletics (including Track and Field, Cross Country, Road Running and Race Walking) in South Africa, is a member of World Athletics and the Confederation of African Athletics. The association was formed in 1995 and is based in Johannesburg.