Deaths (in sport) 2008

PARIS, Dec 22, 2008 (AFP) - Sports personalities who died this year:


Biranchi Das

Controversial former coach of a six-year-old Indian distance runner died of shot gun wounds on April 14 by an unidentified gunman. His handling of Budhia Singh caused widespread concern. Das was sacked as Budhia’s coach last year and arrested after the boy accused him of torture. In May 2006 Singh, dubbed India’s ``Forrest Gump,’’ ran 65 kilometres (40 miles) or one-and-a-half marathons, stunning hundreds of onlookers and drawing accusations of exploitation.

Kerryn McCann

Two-time Australian Commonwealth Games marathon gold medallist died of cancer aged 41 on December 8. McCann was one of Australia’s most successful and popular long-distance runners, and won Commonwealth gold medals in the marathon at Melbourne in 2006 and Manchester in 2002. Kerry McCann was a phenomenon, a mother who took on and conquered the toughest of all athletic events,'' Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in a statement. Her remarkable victory at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games has rightly taken its place as a great moment in Australia’s rich sporting history.’’


Harry Mangurian

Owned the Boston Celtics from 1979 to 1983 and was a top US race horse breeder, died on October 21 aged 82 of leukaemia. Mangurian assembled the epic 1980s Boston Celtics basketball dynasty, bringing such talents as Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish to the team. The Celtics won their first of three titles in the Bird era in 1981. Mangurian set world records for breeding stakes winners and for winning purses.

Will Robinson

The first black coach of a major US college basketball program and a long-time scout for the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons, died on April 28 aged 96. He served as a scout for the Pistons for almost 30 years and helped assemble the squad that won NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. He left the team in 2003.

Gennady Volnov

Soviet Union basketball legend, who won Olympic gold in 1972, died on July 15 aged 68. Volnov was also part of the 1967 world championship winning team and won six European championships.


Edip Sekowitsch

Former WAA world and EBU European boxing champion known as the ‘Serbian Bull’ was stabbed to death in front of the cafe he owned in Vienna on August 26 aged 50. Sekowitsch emigrated to Austria in the early 1980s and became world boxing champion in the light middleweight division in 1988 when he beat Bryan Grant of the United States. He won the European title the following year.


Franisek Capek

Czech Republic Olympic gold medallist in the 10,000 metres at the 1948 London Olympics died aged 93 on January 31. He was also a silver medallist at the 1954 world championships.

Gyorgy Kolonics

Two-time Hungarian Olympic canoeing champion died on July 15 aged 36. Kolonics, who was to have competed in the 500-metre canoe double in the Beijng Olympics with his partner Gyorgy Kozmann, died from sudden heart failure. Kolonics won gold in the 500-metre canoe double at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and gold in the 500-metre canoe single in Sydney in 2000. He was fifteen times world champion and three times European champion in flatwater canoe racing.


Norm O’Neill

One of the great Australian Test batsmen of the 1960s, died on March 3 aged 71. O’Neill played 42 Tests from 1958 to 1965, scoring 2,779 runs at an average of 45.55, including six Test centuries. He died after a long battle with throat cancer. He was an aggressive right-hander but gained the nickname ``Nervous Norm’’ for his reputation of being an uncertain starter in his innings. A Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1962.


Valentino Fois

Italian cyclist and former teammate of deceased champion Marco Pantani, was found dead at his home near Bergamo in late March aged 34. He turned professional in 1996 and was arrested in 1998 for doping after testing positive twice during the Tour of Switzerland and the Tour of Poland. He was suspended for three years in 2002 while he rode for the Mercato Uno team of Pantani, who died of a drug overdose four years ago.


Gordon Bradley

A major figure in United States football who once coached legends Pele and Johan Cruyff in the North American Soccer League, died on April 30 aged 74. England-born Bradley, a 1996 inductee into the US Soccer Hall of Fame, coached Brazilian superstar Pele in the 1970s with the New York Cosmos and later guided Dutch standout Cruyff as coach of the Washington Diplomats. ``He was an inspiration to me because of his love for the game and he always expressed it,’’ said Bruce Arena, a two-time US World Cup coach.

Tim Carter

Former Sunderland goalkeeper was found dead after what appeared to be a suicide on June 21. Carter had been appointed as Sunderland’s academy goalkeeping coach. He played 50 games for the Premier League club between 1987 and 1992. Carter was the first-team goalkeeping coach before the arrival of former Manchester United star keeper Raimond Van Der Gouw last year and also coached Estonia’s national team goalkeepers on a part-time basis.

Derek Dooley

A hero to fans of both Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United football clubs, died on March 5 at the age of 78. Dooley, born in Sheffield, had the unusual distinction of being a popular figure with supporters of both the northern English city’s two major football clubs, having starred for Wednesday as a striker before his playing career was ended prematurely by a broken leg, which later had to be amputated. He returned to Hillsborough as manager between 1971-73 before being controversially sacked on Christmas Eve 1973.

Reinhard Fabisch

Coached Benin at this year’s African Nations Cup but died aged 57 on July 14 after a long illness. Fabisch, who replaced Benin’s Wabi Gomez after the latter had successfully qualified his country for only their second ever Nations Cup, failed to get ‘The Squirrels’ past the first round as they went down to three defeats. He caused an uproar at the African Nations Cup when he claimed that he had been approached by an Asian betting syndicate to fix the result of his team’s opening African Nations Cup game against Mali which they lost 1-0.

Rudolf Illovszky

Former Hungary football manager died in Budapest on September 23 aged 86. Illovszky managed the national football team from 1966 to 1968 and again from 1971 to 1974, winning a silver medal in the Munich Olympics in 1972 and a fourth place at the 1972 European championship in Belgium.

Francois Sterchele

FC Bruges’ Belgian international Francois Sterchele was killed in a car accident on May 8 aged 26. Sterchele was travelling alone between Antwerp and Knokke in the north of the country when his Porsche left the road and smashed into a tree. Sterchele was the Belgian league’s top scorer last season when he played for Antwerp club Germinal Beerschot, before joining Bruges. He had scored six goals for his new club and made six international appearances.

Constant Vanden Stock

Former Belgium national coach and president of Anderlecht, died on April 19 at the age of 93. Vanden Stock coached the national side between 1958 and 1968 before taking over the reins at Anderlecht. Under his presidency the Brussels side won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1976 and 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1983. The club’s stadium was named in his honour in the 1990s.


Christopher Bowman

Two-time US national figure skating champion and two-time world championship minor medalist was found dead of unknown causes inside a Los Angeles motel on January 10 aged 40. Bowman, who was known as ``Bowman the Showman’’, was discovered face down on t48 at St Moritz, Konopasek played in 50 internationals as a left winger and scored 69 goals. But in 1950, he was sentenced to 12 years in jail as a political prisoner, was regularly tortured and accused of being a spy.


Ove Andersson

Former Swedish rally driver and Toyota Formula 1 team principal died on June 11 aged 70 in a car crash in South Africa’s Western Cape province. In 1971, he won four rounds of the World Rally Championship, driving for Renault Alpine.

Paul Frere

Winner of the 1960 Le Mans 24 Hour Race died aged 91 on February 24. Drove a Ferrari to victory in the endurance race. The French-born driver also raced in Formula One from 1952 to 1956, taking part in 11 races with a best finish of second at the 1956 Belgian Grand Prix.


Jack Gibson

Legendary Australian rugby league coach died aged 79 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease on May 10 just weeks after being Australia’s coach of the century. He won five premierships as a coach and is widely credited with revolutionising the game by introducing training methods adapted from US gridiron. Nicknamed Super Coach'', he was also master of the pithy one-liner, once saying winger Andrew Ettinghausen was so quick he can turn the light off and jump into bed before it gets dark’’.

David Myers

Former Great Britain rugby league winger died on October 21 aged 37 in a car crash. Myers starred for Wigan, Widnes and Bradford during his career, and scored a try in Wigan’s Challenge Cup final win over St Helens in 1991.


Daniela Klemenschits

Former top doubles player died on April 9 aged 25 of cancer. Along with her twin sister Sandra was ranked in the top 100 doubles players in the world in 2005, was diagnosed with the rare form of cancer last year and which provoked leading stars like Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova to raise funds on her behalf. Sandra was also diagnosed with the same cancer, but it was detected at an earlier stage.

Federico Luzzi

Italian tennis player died on October 25 after suffering from leukaemia aged 28-years-old. He had fallen ill with a fever which was initially believed to be some form of bronchopneumonia. However tests found that he actually had leukaemia. Luzzi was just inside the top 100 in the ATP world rankings but was best known for his part in a match-fixing scandal that saw him banned for 200 days.

Horst Skoff

Former Austrian tennis player - who reached a career high of 18 in January 1990 - died at the age of 39 of a coronary thrombosis on June 8. His Davis Cup quarter-final rubber against Sweden’s Matt Wilander in Vienna in 1989, which lasted six hours four minutes, is the tournament’s longest ever following the introduction of the tie-break that same year.


Anatoly Khrapaty

Kazakh 1988 Olympic weightlifting champion Anatoly Khrapaty died on August 11 aged 45 in a motorbike accident. Apart from the Olympic title he also won five world championships (1985-87, 1989, 1990) and five European titles.

I have heard of almost none of these people, but too many of them died way too young. Very sad.

Let us not forget Larry “The Burner” James, aged 61, died November 14, 2008 of cancer. Larry was a silver medalist in the 400m at the 1968 Olympics and Gold Medalist in the record setting 4x4 relay at the same Games. Larry was not only a great athlete but a great humanitarian as well, giving back to his community by helping young adults, that is what greatness is all about.